Every novice starts out with a short, 2.5 to 5 centimetre wide slackline. These are rigged between to anchorpoints, mostly trees. There is no special sense of balance needed to slackline, everyone can learn it! The first steps seem impossible, however, with the right tips one advances fast.
Starting from a length of around 30 metres slacklines are classified as longlines. The longer the lines, the more difficult it becomes to walk, in particular because the ability to concentrate is under constant stress. To exemplify: The world record in longlining is at over 600 meters in length – hence more than half a kilometre on a narrow synthetic piece of webbing. Please take note: During the last few years one record has been chasing the next. All current Swiss records are listed here.
Highlining is the supreme discipline of slacklining. Highlines are rigged at great heights, between rocks or even peaks for example. In highlining it is not only balance that matters. Even people free of vertigo fight their instincts here. To protect themselves against life-threatening falls, highliners double up the webbing with a second system (rope or another webbing – principle of redundancy) and attach themselves to those two systems with a harness, safety rope (leash) and a ring that goes around both systems. One has to imagine: The highline world record is at almost 500 metres – at staggering heights.
Tricklines/Jumplines are between 15 and thirty metres long and very taut. This gives the webbing characteristics similar to a trampoline. It is possible to jump from feet to chest, to butt, to back and back to feet for example, in all fathomable combinations including flips and spins. The national Swiss trickline/jumpline championships have been taking place for several years which is only one of many contests worldwide.
A slackline that goes over a body of water is called a waterline. These are especially tempting in summer. It is important that the water is deep enough all the way along the line, so that a fall cannot occur into shallow water. Walking on a waterline is significantly more difficult than on a normal slackline, as water moves and confuses the eye. To compare: The waterline world record is at around 350 metres.
The rodeoline is anchored higher (starting at around two to three metres) and just hung there so that is sags almost all the way to the ground. These lines are walked differently, as it is not possible to walk from one end to the other. People tend to stay in the middle of the webbing, swing from side to side and practice acrobatics. They are very suitable for training and shows.
Speedlining, walking a slackline as fast as possible, is a secondary discipline, yet very spectacular. Occasional contests have been taking place for a few years, from 2016 on a new Swiss championship in speedlining is going to take place.