September 23, 2022

Course Design Trends at the AKC Invitational

Every year, we analyze the trends from the AKC Agility Invitational as part of our Prep Course. Looking at the courses from 2021, I saw a few interesting divergences! The following is the analysis I shared with our online Prep Course students. You still have time to join the course (registration closes Sept 26th) which includes full analyses of the courses from last year as well as 6 rounds of exercises based on the judges for this year’s event. These exercises will help strengthen your skills in small space with minimum set up. Click here to learn more!

The AKC Invitational offers 6 rounds of agility: a Time 2 Beat (warm up round), two Jumpers With Weaves rounds, a Standard round, a Hybrid round, and a Final Standard round for those who qualify. The event will begin with a T2B course on Friday, which essentially functions as a warm up round for competitors–results for this class will not count toward making the Finals.

Let’s take a closer look at Round 1, which for the past seven years has been a Jumpers With Weaves (JWW) course. Over the previous 9 years and 18 JWW courses (not including 2021), the tunnel has appeared only five times (back in 2012, and again in 2017 and 2018 in round 1, 2019 in Round 4, 2020 in Round 1). However, 2021 broke the trend of fewer tunnels than typical courses with 1 tunnel in Round 1 and TWO tunnels in Round 4. The tunnel will likely be 26″ in diameter which is 2″ more than the typical tunnel you find at local AKC trials. From a course design perspective, JWW courses from past years have relied heavily on box structures to challenge competitors. The total number of obstacles has ranged from 18-20.

Will there be a broad jump? Historically, almost every year, one of the two JWW courses has had a broad jump, usually the second JWW course. The broad jump was not present in either JWW course in 2017, 2018, or 2019, but returned in Round 1 in 2020 and Round 4 in 2021. Also note, that in addition to appearing in Round 4 JWW, it was also included in Standard and Hybrid giving 2021 THREE broad jumps. That’s a significant trend upwards.

That’s a lot of broad jumps!

Will there be wingless jumps? In past years, wingless jumps have been a prominent part of most courses, so if your dog does not often train or trial on wingless jumps, make sure you get some practice on them before the event. However, the use of wingless jumps appears to be trending downward. It is worth noting that there were NO wingless jumps in either of the JWW courses in 2019. In fact, in 2019 there were only 2 wingless jumps across all 5 courses, both in Round 2 Standard. In 2020, there were only 2 wingless jumps across all 5 courses, one each in the two jumpers rounds. And in 2021 there was only one wingless jump across all 5 courses showing up in the finals round.

Will there be backsides? Probably. In the previous 9 years (excluding 2021), there have been only five backsides, one each in the 2013 and 2014 Finals, and a recent backside in Round 4 JWW in 2019 AND in the finals course in 2019, and one in the finals course in 2020. However, this is now trending up as there were 3 backsides in 2021 appearing in Round 1 JWW, Round 3 Hybrid, and the finals. Given past courses, there will probably not be threadles or other challenges typical of the Premier classes. However, there will be wraps, and they will typically be placed in areas with nearby off courses.

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