May 27, 2024


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Flyball requires speed. Teams must complete the course as quickly as possible. © Stephen Freubis

Few people can immediately understand the term flyball. Even though the name reveals a lot about the sport. This leisure activity is demanding for the human-canine team.

The third World Championship for the dog sport flyball will be held in Alsfeld on June 1st and 2nd. This summer, the Upper Hesse association Hundesport Lich is hosting this biennial event. Inside Rich’s club grounds, four-legged and two-legged members train energetically and enthusiastically.

Anyone who watches flyball training from the sidelines quickly realizes that this sport is not for the quiet or slow thinkers. People and animals jump over obstacles at extraordinary speeds, and barks of joy and excitement echo throughout the area. A throwing machine throws a tennis ball and a light barrier measures hundredths of a second. And in between, constant commands from the team boss: “Ready, ready, go!”

Stephan Bender and Martin Leiß from the Board of Directors are happy to welcome guests and questions of interest. Reese is from Nidda and he started playing flyball around the 2000s. After his wife was the first to catch flyball fever, his entire family soon followed suit. He first participated in the tournament in 2005.

Origin comes from America

The rules have improved since flyball began in the United States in the 1970s. But the basic idea remains, Bender and Reese say. Teams are made up of dogs and handlers, and 4 teams make up one team. Also, as a reserve he has two teams, one team each with his members in his light barrier system and his flyball machine. Lichers can boast of three teams. “16 Paws of Power” and “Paws Attack Next Generation” are the names of active tournament teams. “Paw Patrol” is the name of the junior team.

Four dogs complete an obstacle course like a relay race. Upon reaching the ball machine, the animal activates a mechanical trigger. The ball box then throws a tennis ball to the dog athlete. The dog has to catch it with its nose and grab it. Much like a competitive swimmer pushing himself over the edge of a pool, the dog pushes off the ball machine at breakneck speed and sprints over the obstacles back to the starting line. Of course, a dog trainer will also be there to cheer loudly. Only when the animal and the ball reach the starting line will the next of his four-legged friends start. Monitor changes with light barriers and video recording.

“My job is as a ball picker,” Reese explains. Anyone who considers the job of a nider to be a quiet one should keep in mind the following: The active competitive dog can complete an entire course that includes four obstacles, triggering the ball in his box, catching the ball, and a complete dive in less than 4 seconds. This means it takes Reese up to 4 seconds to reload the box with a new ball. If the dog loses the ball on the way or does not properly jump over an obstacle, the team receives his second penalty. Positive aspects: The height of the hurdle is based on the smallest dog member and varies between 15 and 32 centimeters.

Visit a training camp and you’ll see how lively the event will be this summer. The World Cup, which will be held at Hessehallen in Alsfeld, will feature 75 teams from 10 countries, including 15 German clubs. At least 700 human and 450 animal participants will participate at the start. The event is hosted by Lich Club.

preparation for world cup

How do you manage such a large-scale event, including working with the fire brigade, police and certified veterinarians? Board member Corinna Bender 4 remains calm: » 2019, Us hosted the European Flyball Championship (EFC) in Obornhoven. 143 teams from 12 European countries qualified, with 1,271 participants and around 900 dogs taking part. That’s why we have practice. ”

And what about funding? Admission to the World Cup will eventually be free. »Of course, we are financially dependent on our sponsors. Ball boxes, traffic lights, and light barriers aren’t cheap. Fortunately, we have sponsors. ”

These energetic canine athletes have no time to catch their breath. After the World Cup in Alsfeld, I will go to the German Cup in Weilburg in August and the next EFC in Belgium in September. Of course, training is necessary even in winter. And here Martin Ries and all his board members have one wish that is important to them. “We are looking for a minimum hole size of approximately 6 x 40 meters in this area for the period from September to April.”

Flyball’s roots lie in Southern California in the 1970s. In those days, people would throw tennis balls as soon as the dog reached the so-called jump line. Currently, the mechanically operated Ball His box is responsible for “throwing” the ball, and one of his members of the team is solely responsible for reloading the box. In the 1990s, dog sports first came to England and then spread to other parts of Europe. The first German Championship was held in Fungen in 2008. In contrast to the better-known agility training, flyball is a true team sport where people and animals compete against other teams for position. The minimum age for dogs is one and a half years. However, there is no age limit for humans and animals. stf

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The important part of flyball is catching the ball and carrying it safely over obstacles. © Stephen Freubis
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The so-called ballbox operator, here Nidda’s Martin Reis, also has to cope with the team’s high speed when reloading. © Stephen Freubis



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