Women's gymnastics, the balance beam is always a fearful event, and it starts off when they're young, just learning how to walk. A very basic, it is very intimidating, though, because you are only on four inches. Whether you are only on a floor beam, which ends up being about eight inches off the ground, to whether you're on a high beam, which ends up being four feet off the ground, the beams are four inches wide no matter what height they are. In order to have a straight walk and not fall off the beam, students are encouraged to focus on balancing for the upper body in order to keep the lower body stable. So we always teach either arms out at the side or to lift our chest up to hold a good posture up or hands on our hips, holding our body firm up top like a statue.
When walking across the beam, of course, you want to stare at the beam. You don't want to look straight down, though. You are encouraged to look at the end of the beam in a straight line. As you step forward, you want to make sure your toes touch the beam and then slowly roll down to your heel so that you know you are on the beam, not just quick, flat steps. You want to make sure your toes touch, and therefore then your heel touch, to safely walk across the beam. Backwards walking is the same thing. As you're walking backwards, you look at the end of the beam in front of you, touch the beam with your toe behind you, and then place your heel down for a safe and effective walk.