WHAT IS FLYBALL?
Flyball is a relay race for dogs that was invented in California in the late 70's. It is said that Herbert Wagner first showed it on the Johnny Carson Show to millions of Americans. Soon afterwards dog trainers and dog clubs were making and using flyball boxes. The sport became so popular in the early 80's that the North American Flyball Association was formed.
A flyball course is 51 feet in length and consists of four jumps and a springloaded box that propels a tennis ball. A team is made up of 4 dogs with their handlers and up to 2 alternates. Dogs must go over the jumps, activate the box, catch the ball, return over the jumps and cross the start/finish line before the next dog on the team can go. Two teams race against each other side by side and the first team to finish all four dogs without making a mistake wins.
Jump heights range from 8 inches to 16 inches and are set at 4 inches below the smallest dog's shoulder height. Teams are divided into separate divisions, where dogs of equal ability and skill level compete against each other. Any mixed breed or purebred dog can play.
Flyball tournaments are usually organized in either a round robin or double elimination format. In our region, the first team to win 3 heats receives points towards their tournament standings. Division 1 teams that place in the top 3 in a tournament also receive points towards regional standings.
This is a fast paced and exciting sport where wins and losses are often determined by fractions of a second. Handlers aim for perfect starts and precision passes in order to get the best time. Dogs often start from 50 feet behind the start line in order to get to top speed as they pass the oncoming dog.
The current world record for regular racing is held by Spring Loaded of Michigan with a 15.22 second time! The multibreed world record (four different breeds on one team) is also held by Spring Loaded with a 15.80 second run.
Warning: this sport has a highly addictive nature for both handlers and dogs alike. Flyball fanatics are often seen travelling throughout nearby provinces to attend tournaments. For the dogs, well the sound level at any flyball tournament will tell you how much they love it!
Division 1 teams race for tournament points that lead to regional standings. Individual dogs also earn points towards titles. These points are given according to the team's total time as follows:
The titles that can be earned are: