By Jayne McQuillen
Many of us have been anxiously awaiting the return of flyball competitions! The first NAFA tournaments are just weeks away, so it’s the perfect time to look at some practical considerations for this new age of masked flyball. While the CDC is the best source for mask-wearing recommendations, below are some extra considerations, especially for flyball participants.
Practicing in the mask you plan on wearing at a tournament can help you identify potential issues. Keep in mind that, while any mask may be tolerable for a short-duration practice, it might become intolerable when worn for a whole day of racing.
Things to keep in mind:
- Does the mask move a lot on your face when you yell?
- Does the fabric suck into your mouth when you take a deep breath?
- Does it move off your nose or mouth when you do regular flyball tasks like box loading, shagging balls, or holding your dog?
- Does it muffle your voice so much no one can hear you?
- Will the ear straps irritate you after wearing the mask all day?
- If you wear glasses, will your glasses steam up and render you unable to see the lights for that perfect start or pass?
At first, our club entertained the idea of club logo masks, but not every mask fits every face comfortably. Make sure the mask fits your face well; even if that causes you to stare wistfully at the club logo ones and wonder why you have such a weird-shaped face!
So…you’ve found it: the BEST mask to fit your face at flyball. Now consider getting spares of your favorite mask! No one likes a damp, moist mask stuck to their face all day. Need I say more? If you are crating outside, or the tournament is not climate controlled, you might get really steamy under that mask.
Other things to consider:
- A mask lanyard is a great way to avoid losing your favorite mask during the racing day;
- Ear saver devices can drastically increase your comfort & mask fit when playing flyball;
- You can be a hero by sharing clean, spare masks with your fellow flyballers: maybe pick up a box of 50 disposable masks and hand them out like candy!
The best source for info on mask-wearing is the CDC’s guidelines; however, do give some serious thought to the special considerations masks in a tournament setting will mean. I wear masks at work and out in public, but the masks I use for those do not withstand the rigors of an active sport like flyball.