Ready, Set, GO!
Flyball is a high-speed, frenetic, strategic dog sport. It's a team relay race that almost every dog can enjoy, but does require training and good timing. “Team” is very much at the heart of it – you’ll see competitors cheering for their teammates’ dogs as loudly as their own.
The first ever flyball tournament was held in 1983. In November, 1984, twelve teams from the Toronto- Detroit area formed the North American Flyball Association (NAFA). www.flyball.org
Flyball is a relay race where two four-dog teams race against each other in parallel lanes down a 51 foot long course. Each dog jumps four hurdles, triggers a spring-loaded box to release a ball, catches the ball and carries it back over the hurdles to the starting line, at which time the next dog is released and the next and the next. Speed is important, but accuracy counts too – any error (such as dropping a ball, going around a jump, or passing too early) and that dog has to rerun, adding to the team’s total time. Each of the four dogs take a turn running the course and when all of the dogs have passed the finish line with no errors, the team has finished the heat. The team with the fastest time wins.
Jump heights are determined by the height of the smallest dog on the team – this dog is called the “height dog” and they are worth their weight in gold. Height dogs are measured at the withers, then that number is rounded down to the nearest inch and another 5" is subtracted to get the jump height (with the minimum jump height being 7"). So a 13 1/4" dog would round down to 13", minus 5", would jump 8". Maximum jump height is 14".
NAFA tournaments are divided into divisions so that teams compete against other teams of equal abilities. All dogs, purebred or mixed-breed, are eligible to compete and earn titles. Dogs can get awards both for winning their division and for accumulating points throughout their careers.
NAFA racing is timed using a state-of-the-art wireless system with infrared sensors, an LED Start Tree (like Drag Strip Racing) and large LED displays that show the start time along with each dog’s individual time and the overall team time. The times are recorded down to the thousandth of a second. The NAFA record time is less than 15 seconds!
The NAFA racing year begins on October 1 and extends through September 30 of the following calendar year. For your dog to be able to race in a tournament, all that is needed is a team of 4 dogs (maximum of 6) that all have a registered Competitive Racing Number (CRN).
Titles & Awards
Each time a team races in a NAFA sanctioned Flyball tournament, their dogs earn points based on the following:
•23.999 seconds or less: each dog racing in that heat receives 25 points towards a Flyball title
•27.999 seconds or less: each dog receives 5 points
•31.999 seconds or less: each dog receives 1 point
This information is tracked on the NAFA Database (www.flyball.org) here you can search your dog by their CRN or your club number and see how many points your dog has. You can also compare your dog with other breeds in the Breed Analysis section.
Why would you try Flyball?
•It’s a great way to meet and hang out with fellow dog-lovers
•It provides excellent physical and mental exercise for an active dog and helps you form a working bond with your dog.
•Any size or breed of dog can play, including mixed breeds. You will also see many rescue dogs competing in flyball.
•NAFA’s Veterans Class allows dogs age 7 and over to have fun too, with reduced jump heights and limited racing.
Racing is competitive and exciting, no matter what division you’re in! It’s addictive…trust us!