Sharing the Sport of Flyball

REMEMBER YOUR first flyball dog?

By Jayne McQuillen and Dede Crough

This year at CanAm XII, NAFA teamed up with AKC.TV and ESPN to showcase flyball to a broader audience. The CanAm Championship races will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, October 17th and TSN2 on Monday, October 18th (check your local listings). Such fantastic exposure–combined with more people looking for ways to have fun with their dogs– means we’re likely to get a lot of inquiries about how to get started in flyball. Here are some great ways you and your club can play a part:

Get them hooked!

  • Invite interested people to visit a tournament and experience the excitement of racing in person!
  • Invite new people to watch a practice or, even better, try out some simple things like recalls with their dog.

Classes or workshops

  • If you are open to new members and/or teaching classes, get your club featured here on the NAFAblog. Contact us at
  • A “try before you buy” workshop is a great way for both the instructor and the dog owner to determine if flyball class is the right choice for a dog. You could make the fee for the workshop very reasonable and apply it to the cost of the first session of classes for anyone who registers before the next beginner session starts.

Help connect people

  • If you aren’t currently taking new club members or offering classes, reach out to other area clubs, your regional director, and training facilities so you know where to refer anyone who contacts you for info.
  • If you offer classes but your club isn’t taking new members right now, find out which nearby clubs are taking new members so new dog/handler teams have somewhere to go once they get closer to being competition ready.

Teaching flyball to new people can be challenging; it takes time and patience. Although there is more upfront effort required to train both inexperienced handlers and green dogs, there are big payoffs in welcoming new people. When I look at Skidmarkz, almost every handler started with no experience, but a lot of desire to learn. They have all grown into amazing handlers and team members who each bring unique skills to our club. I know Skidmarkz is stronger for helping people get into the sport.

My first dog was a challenge to train. Zoe wasn’t fast, and she didn’t take to the sport easily. But it was that dog, and the training support we received from other flyballers, that hooked us on the sport. Think back to the dog that got you into flyball. Maybe you are lucky enough to still have that special dog in your life. It’s highly likely someone took the time to show you how to train that dog.

People ask, How did Skidmarkz become such a big club? How did you manage to bring 19 people and 42 dogs to CanAm? It didn’t happen all at once; all these orange people have slowly trickled into the club over the years. We’ve always welcomed those who wanted to learn and do more with their dogs. We took in some unlikely dogs with fantastic owners. We were willing to take anyone who truly embraced the sport and our club has flourished as a result. Great potential teammates are out there wanting to do more with their dogs, wanting to learn this sport. Make sure you don’t miss out on an opportunity to help them be successful and to help your own club out in the process! The sport needs you. Go Flyball!

Lots of orange at CanAm XII!