About Flyball

Flyball began in the 1970’s as a sport created by Californian, Herbert Wagner. While today’s flyball scarcely resembles the rules used during the first tournament held in 1983, the idea of a relay race for 4 dogs retrieving a tennis ball over jumps is the same. Today’s dogs are top athletes, many running the distance of 102 feet (51 feet from the start-finish line over 4 jumps to the box and return) in under 5 seconds. The world record for a 4 dog team is 15.22 seconds!

In a flyball race, which consists of between 3 and 5 heats, two teams are pitted against each other. Each racing lane is made up of a start-finish line, then 6 feet later the first jump, then every 10 feet another jump (for a total of 4), and then 15 feet beyond the last jump a spring-loaded box which holds a tennis ball. Each dog must run over the jumps, trigger the box, grab the tennis ball, and then return over the jumps meeting the next dog on the team at the start-finish line. If a dog drops a ball or misses a jump, that dog must go to the end of the line and run again. The first team to get all of its dogs across the finish line wins the heat; the team with the most heats wins the race!

The smallest dog on the team determines jump heights. The measurement is taken at the dog’s shoulders, and 4 inches is subtracted to determine a jump height. For example, a 13" dog would allow the entire team to jump at 9", regardless of the size of the other dogs. Jumps can be no lower than 7 inches and no higher than 12.

The North American Flyball Association is the first body to govern flyball in the United States and Canada. NAFA welcomes all breeds, including mixes. NAFA awards points for individual dogs based on the total team time. A heat completed in 28-32 seconds earns 1 point, 24-28 gets 5 points, and under 24 seconds gets each dog 25 points.

U-Fli is the newest organization to sanction flyball racing. The rules are similar; however, U-Fli also offers single dog and pairs racing in addition to team competition. The point breakdown in U-fli is also done differently.

The SFC participates in both venues as each is super fun!

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