What is Flyball?

A Flyball lane. Flyball is a great family activity that everyone can enjoy with their canine friends! It's a team sport for dogs that was invented in California in the late 70s. Legend has it 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. In the early 80s the sport became so popular that the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) was formed and this association is the worldwide authority for Flyball.

A Flyball box. Flyball is a relay race with 4 dogs on a team. The course consists of a starting line, 4 hurdles spaced 10 feet apart and a box. The first hurdle is 6 feet from the start line and the box is 15 feet from the last hurdle for a 51 foot overall length. The dog jumps the hurdles and steps on a spring-loaded box that shoots out a tennis ball. The dog catches the tennis ball, then runs back over the 4 hurdles. When the dog crosses the starting line the next dog goes. The first team to have all 4 dogs run without errors wins the heat. Tournaments are usually organized in either a double elimination or round robin format. Double elimination is usually best of 3 or best of 5. Round robin is usually best 3 out of 5 and the first team to win 3 heats receives 1 point towards their standing in the tournament.

Sammy jumping over an 8-inch Flyball hurdle. The height of the hurdles is dependent upon the height of the dogs on the team -- 4" below the shoulder height of the shortest dog; 8" is the minimum height and 16" is the maximum height. Sammy, one of the Jammn' K9s, is shown on the right jumping over an 8" hurdle.

Excerpted from "What is Flyball," by Kathryn Hogg, Flyball Home Page.