F Sending: Celebrating the Fun of Slacklining with Liz Thomas

For those outside of the slacklining community, let’s start with a quick vocabulary lesson:

  • Send: a verb known to have originated in climbing but has now spread to numerous outdoor sports such as skiing, surfing, highlining, slacklining, mountain biking, and more. In climbing to “send” means that you have climbed the climb in one go (not necessarily the first try), one continuous climb without falling or hanging on the rope. Translated into highlining terms “to send” has come to mean you have walked the whole highline from one end (the point you stand up close to an anchor) to the other end.
  • Slacklining: the act of walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors
  • Highlining: slacklining, but up higher (think slacklining above a river)

I personally have been very prone to getting obsessed with “the send”. And I’ve got to say sending is great! It feels good. It is like taking a huge dopamine pill once your activity of choice is over and you have “sent it”, even if it was brutally painful to get there. But I think there is a dark side to being obsessed with sending.

And that’s why I’m currently on a huge “f sending” (pardon the hidden expletive) movement while slacklining–I cannot get enough of it! I’ve been posting bits and pieces of my thoughts on the subject on Instagram and have been getting positive feedback and want to expand.

The dark side, at least for me, is the pressure I put on myself to on-site. There is that classic climbing term that says it all, “on-site or die”. It’s one mentality, but not the one I chose to have anymore. I’ve found that instead of looking at the prize I was obsessed with avoiding failure to a point that is was almost inevitable. This is a little counterproductive. When I teach slacklining I tell people to not look down because they will go down. The same principle applies to your thoughts. Don’t think about falling or else you will fall.

Yes I get super excited when I send that highline clean but f sending isn’t about not sending, it’s about celebrating all of the things in between. Celebrate the stands, the whippers, the gnarly line catch bruises all up and down your arms and legs! Celebrate the present! It’s all about creating a positive playful atmosphere for yourself and others by changing your outlook of success.

In every sport you do remember we all started it because whatever it is we thought it was fun! Somewhere along the way we start getting better and then we get serious. It’s fun to send lines, routes, and new skills but F SENDING and remember to have fun along the way!

  • “The best surfer is the one having the most fun.” Duke Kahanamoku
  • “The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun.” Alex Lowe

 To sum things up, the road to success inevitably has failures all along the way, so I just like to remember to giggle at every single one.

—Liz Thomas, highline athlete

Follow Liz on Instagram to see her adventures in Xero Shoes