Flyball FAQs

How did flyball get started?

Herbert Wagner was the first person to show the world the team sport we love, called, "Flyball". It was started in the late 1970's in California. Apparently, Herbert showed it on the Johnny Carson Show. Soon after the show was aired dog clubs and trainers started making Flyball boxes and jumps and couldn't wait to get started! Flyball stretches from the United States to Canada, the United Kingdom to Belgium, and Australia to Italy. There are over 700 clubs and over 9,000 dogs registered with the North American Flyball Association (NAFA). In 2004, the United Flyball League International (U-FLI) was created to accommodate the ever growing dog sport of Flyball.

What Makes the Denver Speed Demons different?

Denver Speed Demons realizes how hard it is to find activities to keep those doggie's in shape that is fun for humans too! Flyball is wonderful exercise for dogs. Besides just the obvious physical stimulation, Flyball provides mental stimulation as well! There is always room to improve and to learn new things. Denver Speed Demons provides equipment and we instruct owners on how to train their own dog to do Flyball. We value the bond that grows when working with your own dog. We also value how important it is to challenge and occupy a dog's mind and body. The great thing about Flyball is that any breed, including mixed breeds and rescues, can play. Chihuahua's to Great Dane's find this sport irresistible. We acknowledge how hard it is to find dog sports out there which are not based on AKC registered dogs. Flyball provides the type of environment that allows any dog to have an outlet for their energy, even if they don't have papers. Denver Speed Demons provide a fun, safe, and friendly atmosphere to work your dog while providing the very essence of Flyball Racing.

What Equipment do you use?

Most of our equipment is made by club members to NAFA specifications.

Jumps / Hurdles

Flyball Box

What do the points mean?

In NAFA Flyball tournaments, dogs earn tournament points to determine the winner of the tournament. If a team competes in the Regular class in Division 1, any points they get (it's complicated and I still don't understand how it works) go towards Regional Winners!

They also earn NAFA points for every heat they participate in.

They earn:

1 point for each dog when the team runs less than 32 seconds (28.000 - 31.999)

5 points for each dog when the team runs less than 28 seconds (24.000 - 27.999)

25 points for each dog when the team runs less than 24 seconds (0.000 - 23.999)

How do competitions work?

  • Each team is made up of 4 dogs that race relay style. You can have up to 6 dogs on one team roster that can rotate, but only 4 dogs can race in one heat.

  • It is helpful to have a Height Dog on each team. The jump height for the entire team is based on the smallest dog running in the heat. The jumps can be as low as 7" and as tall as 14". The jump height is 5 inches shorter than the withers (tops of the shoulders) than the smallest dog, though no lower than 7". Typically bigger dogs run faster over lower jumps, so you group 3 big dogs with 1 little dog to get the best chance of running the fastest. Note that is a VERY general idea and is not always the case. Some little dogs run faster than big dogs and some big dogs run faster over taller jumps.

  • The team makes an informed decision (or simply guesses) how long they think it will take their team to get any combination of 4 dogs on their roster down to the box and back. This is called a Seed Time. The Team Captain then chooses a name (The Denver Speed Demons tend to choose names revolving around a Demon them...such as Tasmanian Devils, Devil's Fury, Fire and Ice, etc.) and submits paperwork to the host club. The paperwork has the names of the dogs and owners, the CRN's, the team name, the jump height, the seed time and the class.

  • The host club then creates divisions based on seed times. Divisions are a grouping of teams with similar seed times. Teams are split up into classes (Regular, Open, Vets, Multibreed, Non-Regular) first. Those classes are then separated further by grouping teams together that will be running approximately the same speed. This way, a really fast team won't race a slower team, allowing each division to enjoy racing each other and being competitive. It should be noted that even if a fast team races a slower team, it is not an automatic win for the fast team. The fast team must still complete the heat correctly. The fast team can have an error but must rerun the error-ed dog. Sometimes the fast team can run 4 dogs plus their rerun dog and still win, other times they cannot.

  • Once the host club has created divisions they then assign a format to each division. The purpose of the format is to make the number of heats per team as equal as possible. NAFA rules state that a single team cannot run more than 35 heats in a given tournament day. The typical number of heats in Region 19 race 24-30 heats a day.

  • After all of that has been established, the host club then creates a racing schedule that the participating clubs follow at a tournament.

  • Some tournaments are considered Frills Tournaments. Frills Tournaments are competitions where the host club gives out awards of some kind.

  • This could be anything from ribbons and medals, to dog toys, treats, etc. The teams are placed (1st thru 6th for instance) based on how many heats or races they won in their division. Most tournaments are No-Frills and means that you participate simply for the joy of racing, spending time with your dog, spending time with your friends, and getting points for titles.

  • To see an example of divisions, formats, and racing schedules, please see our DSD Tournaments page.

Flyball Terms

Anchor Dog: The very last dog in the line-up. Should be competitive, as they "bring home the race".

Bad Call:An unnecessary flag or call. Something both line and box judges will occasionally make.

Ball Shagger:The person picking up the loose balls from the racing dogs.

Box Judge: The judge who sits by the box to make sure the dog racing triggers the box and doesn't 'steal' the


Boxloader: The person in charge of loading the flyball box for each racing dog.

Breakout: Each division (except Division 1) are assigned a breakout. The breakout is 1 second faster than the fastest team's seed time in the division. For instance lets say Division 2 has 4 teams. Team A has a seed time of 19.3, Team B is 19.4, Team C is 19.4, and Team D is 19.6. The breakout is 18.3, which is one second faster than Team A's seed time.

Class: Classes of competition are Regular, Open, Veterans, Multibreed, and Non-Regular. Please see the NAFA rulebook(section 6.2) for more information on the differences between the classes.

Crossover: When a dog leaves it's racing lane and enters the other racing lane. The team in the other lane

receives an automatic win.

Divisons: A grouping of teams with similar seed times.

Early Pass: When one dog leaves before the returning dog is through the sensor.

EJS:Electronic Judging System. This is comprised of 3 different parts.

1) the laser sensor at the start/finish line

2) the light tree in between theracing lanes

3) the displaybox at the score table

False Start: When the start dog goes through the sensor before the green run light is on. Each

team gets one false start per heat, after which the lead dog must re-run.

Format: Tells the competing teams how many heats they will run in each race

3/3 = run 3 heats. The team that wins 2 out of 3 wins the race.

4/4 = run 4 heats. The team that wins at least 3 of 4 wins the race. Ties are accepted.

5/5 = run 5 heats. The team that wins the most heats wins the race.

3/5 = runs 3, 4, or 5 heats. The first team to win 3 wins the race. Then the race is finished.

Handler: The person releasing and catching a racing dog. You need at least 4 per team.

Heat: When all 4 dogs have completed a full run.

Height Dog:Shortest dog on the team. Determines the team’s jump height.

Host Club: The club that has organized and is running/managing the event.

Jump Height: Measured at 4” less then the shortest dog’s shoulder height or 7”, whichever is greater.

Maximum of 14”.

Lap Time: Total time it takes for an individual dog to complete the run. The time starts when

the dog's nose breaks the sensor going to the box, and stops when the dog's nose breaks the

sensor going back.

Line-Up: This is the order in which the 4 dogs on your team run.

Line Judge: The judge at the start line as a backup for the sensor. The line judge watches

passes and makes sure the ball is carried across the line.

Pass Caller: The person who tells you how close (or far) your passes are. They stand at the

start line.

Race: Consists of 3,4,or 5 heats (determined by host club).

Re-Run: When a dog or handler commits an error that invalidates the dog's run (i.e. dropping

the ball, early pass, false start, missing a jump), the team continues to run and the dog that

has erred is tacked on again at the end for a re-run.

Seed time: The seed time is determined by how fast the team thinks they will run with any combination

of the dogs on their team. You do not want to put your seed time too fast or you may be placed in a division with

faster teams and you will most likely lose most races. You don't want to put your seed time too slow or you will have

a breakout (see above). The breakout is giving to discourage those that seed too low so they are put in a slower

division, pretty much ensuring they win because they will be faster than the other teams. If a team breaks-out 3 times

in a tournament, they are not eligible to win divisional placements/awards.

Sensor: Part of the EJS, the electronic start line.

Start Dog:The very first dog in your line-up. Normally the fastest, strongest, most consistent


Start/Finish Line: 6 feet from the first/last jump. This is the exact place dogs are supposed to

pass nose to nose.

Start Time: The start dog should be at the start line when the green light glows. The start

time is how long AFTER the green light shines that the start dog crossed the sensor. In other

words, it shows how many seconds late the start dog was.

Team Captain: The Team Captain makes decisions on what dogs should run in what races. They are also in charge of

discussing disagreements with a judge, versus the entire team being involved in the discussion. This plus other duties.

Team Roster: A Team Roster is the C.1 sheet given to the host club that lists up to 6 dogs per team. All dogs listed

must have a CRN.

Team Time: Total time it takes to get all 4 team dogs down to the box and back.

Timer: Times each dog's individual run or team time. Good to have at practices.