Dogs, people, and clubs from across North America and beyond meet each year in October for the world’s largest Flyball tournament: the CanAm Flyball Classic. This prestigious event has been held every year since 2009 with the exception of 2020 due to COVID-19.
Consisting of three one-day tournaments and two championship tournaments, the entire event is non-stop action and fun. The 2021 event takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
How to Watch the Flyball CanAm Classic
Before watching, it is helpful to brush up on some basics about the action-packed relay sport.
How does Flyball work? Two four-dog teams line up to race each other on a course that includes four hurdles and one springloaded box for each team. As the last light on the set turns green, the first dog on each team races down the lane over each hurdle toward the springloaded box, triggering the box with their paw to release a ball which they catch at lightning speed. Then, banking off the box, the dogs race back over the jumps and return to their handler. The dogs then go relay-style, passing nose-to-nose at the start/finish line until all four dogs have successfully completed the course with the fastest team winning the heat.
What dogs can compete in Flyball? All dogs including mixed breeds are eligible to compete in Flyball as long as they are 15 months or older.
What makes a Flyball team? Four dogs and four human handlers make up a Flyball team. In addition, there is one human boxloader and two dog/handler backups.
How do you win? The first team to have all four dogs cross the finish line without errors wins the heat. The team to win the most heats in a race (for example 3 of 5) wins.
What is the CanAm Flyball Classic?
The annual CanAm Flyball Classic is the world’s premier tournament for the sport of Flyball. Hundreds of dogs of all skill sets come from the U.S., Canada, and other countries. Any teams can enter the Regular, Mulibreed, or Open Classic classes. By the end of the weekend, the fastest teams qualify to compete in the CanAm Regular and CanAm Multibred championships.
Regular: teams made up of any breeds of dogs and/or mixed breeds
Multibreed: teams consist of four different breeds, or three different breeds and a mixed breed.
Want to Get Started in Flyball?
If watching Flyball on TV has you thinking your dog would love competing, you’re probably right! The best way to get started in Flyball is to find a club near you that offers classes. Flyball is a team sport so it’s important to find a team that works for both you and your dog.
If you’re not ready to go to a class, many clubs host online classes and seminars, and you can try practicing jumps with at-home equipment.
While you’re searching for Flyball clubs in your state, you can read the NAFA Rulebook to familiarize yourself with the sport.
Don’t think Flyball is for you? Don’t worry! There are many dog sports that are suitable for dogs of all ages and abilities.