Flyball is a competitive team sport which is run on a knockout
basis. It first became popular as a sport in America and made its
debut in the UK at Crufts in 1990. Flyball is a fun and energetic
sport your dog will love.
Two teams of four dogs compete at the same time, each using a
parallel 'racing lane' down which each dog in turn runs, clearing
four hurdles in succession before triggering a pedal on the Flyball
A tennis ball is then released which the dog must hold before
returning over the hurdles to the start line. The first team to
have its fourth dog across the finish line, with any part of the
dog's body, wins the race. Each dog must cross the finish line
before the next dog can start, and handlers aim to launch their dog
so that it will cross with a returning dog just at the line.
If a run is not completed correctly the dog must re-run at the
end of the line (for instance if the dog drops the ball, misses out
a hurdle or starts too early, if the ball-loader assists the dog,
or the handler crosses the start line while their dog is running).
Usually the best of three runs decides which team proceeds to the
next heat but five runs are also sometimes used. Each team consists
of four handlers plus a 'box loader' and some reserves, although
teams often also provide stewards.
The area needed for a Flyball race tends to be fairly large. Dogs
can run at terrific speeds therefore require a good distance at the
end of the race in order to slow down. A wide area at the end of
the hurdles is also necessary to allow dogs enough room to pick up
the ball and reverse direction safely! Any design of commercially
produced flat-fronted Flyball box may be used provided the
principles of safety are maintained.
There are 4 pieces of equipment required for Flyball:
The hurdles should be 30.9cm (12ins) high for all classes and
all sizes of dog and be painted white. For safety, the top rail
must be flexible or padded.
Any flat fronted commercial Flyball box may be used provided the
safety of the competing dogs is not at risk.
There has to be a Backstop Board in place as dogs can really
hurtle over the course and there has to be something there to slow
The balls that are loaded into the box must be un-punctured
tennis balls. There is a risk that dogs could choke on something
smaller, or damage themselves with something larger.
Kennel Club Events
Every year the Crufts hosts a Flyball final where sixteen teams
strive to become Crufts Flyball champions in front of a massive,
noisy and enthralled audience in the NEC Arena. For more
information about this exciting event,