Flyball is truly a team sport, where dogs (and their handlers!) race down a course relay-style, jumping over obstacles in order to snatch a tennis ball and return back to the start line. It’s wicked fast and super entertaining to watch. Dogs from across the country gathered on October 7 to October 9 for the Flyball CanAm Classic, the world’s largest Flyball tournament.
Consisting of three one-day tournaments and two championship tournaments, the entire event is non-stop action and fun. The 2022 event took place in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
How to Watch the Flyball CanAm Classic
You can watch all the action from the Flyball CanAm Classic championships on Sunday, October 23 at 9 p.m. ET by tuning in to ESPN2 on your TV or by signing in on any device. The broadcast will be hosted by sportscaster Carolyn Manno with analysis by Ashley Hilliker and Bill Ellis.
“The AKC is thrilled to offer ESPN viewers a chance to witness such an exciting canine sport,” said AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo. “This is the largest Flyball tournament in the world, so viewers can really get a sense of what the sport is all about.”
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 team 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 wanting to join in on the team comradery, it’s easier than you think to get started. 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.