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 dogs jump the hurdles and jumps onto a spring loaded box that shoots out a tennis ball (or any ball that bounces and fits in the hole). The dog catches the tennis ball and then runs back over the 4 hurdles. The next dog passes the returning dog as close to the start line as possible. The returning dog has to be over the start line before the passing dog gets there. There are lights and laser timers to let the handlers know when they have messed up. The first team to have all 4 dogs run without errors wins the heat. Click here to watch a video about Flyball.
Who Makes the Rules?
There are two sanctioning bodies for flyball:
The basics are the same but there are some small differences between the two groups.
NAFA only has team racing (4 dogs per team) but UFLI also has singles and doubles.
The jump heights can range from 6" to 15" in NAFA and 6" to 12" in UFLI. Jump heights are set by the smallest dog on the team. The two organizations measure the smallest dog differently. NAFA measure to the withers similar to agility and UFLI measures the dog's leg.
Both groups encourage junior handlers and have programs to get the kids involved.
How Fast Can They Really Go?
So the fastest teams race 4 dogs in less than 16 seconds. So each dog on the team is running the entire 102 feet in less than 4 seconds.
At all the tournaments there are different divisions so each team races against equivalent teams. Each dog an earn individual points and titles based on the speed of its team.