Hoopers Basics (see also Hoopers Drills)

Most people who have an interest in agility will have heard of Hoopers by now.  It is one of the fastest growing dog sports in the UK.  It has come over from the USA and people who try it love it. 

The video below illustrates the sport of Hoopers and as you can see it's ideal for handlers who are unable to run or who don't want to run.  It's also ideal for dogs that love to go flat out but maybe aren't able to jump. 


hoopers video

There are many classes for older dogs who can compete with dogs on the same level.  The classes themselves usually consist of a series of hoops, tunnels, or barrels or a mixed lot of all three. There are currently a couple of organisations in the UK who have published guidelines and rules for Hoopers competitions and they also have Hoopers progression systems.  One of these is Hooperholics South.  They have different levels of skill within Hoopers and you can progress up the levels by gaining points for a qualifying round and extra points for the handler staying within a designated box and handling at a distance.

The beauty of Hoopers is that it needn't cost a fortune.  Our agility  club chairman made some hoops from plastic pipe and plumbing pipe.

In the video below Sasha and Jilly are having a go at a simple course I put up in the training field.  Sasha thinks it's a lot of fun to be doing something again.

Video of Jilly and Sasha doing hoopers

Now that Hoopers is becoming established in the UK our club, Cornwall Agility Club, will be running Hoopers shows alongside our agility shows.  The first ones are being run by the Mutley Dog Crew but next year we will be running our own shows in July and September.  Mike, the chairman is making us some new hoops in the club colours, black and yellow, and I have bought the tunnels.  All we need now are the sandbags for the tunnels and some barrels that we can paint black and yellow and we're away.  I'll describe the equipment in more detail below.

Equipment for Hoopers

Hoopers equipment consists of hoops, barrels and tunnels.  The hoops are usually made from plastic pipe like the ones I made below.

Some home made hoops

Barrels can be made from pop up leaf bags but the ones they use at shows are often blue plastic barrels.


a pop up garden bagA blue plastic barrel


Hoopers tunnels have a bigger diameter than agility tunnels.  They need to be 80 wide instead of 60cm.  The minimum length of tunnel is 1 metre and the maximum is 3 metres.  The ones I ordered for the club are 1 metre and 2 metre.  They are half non slip tunnels.  This is the black part at the bottom of the tunnel.  This is fine for Hoopers where the tunnels are always straight and and always have a straight entry.  A slight curve away is allowed on the exit.  As the dogs always enter on a straight line and the tunnels are so large they won't bank them like they do in agility.  If you are going to use a non slip material for agility it is recommended that the whole of the inside of the tunnel is made from the non slip material.

Jilly and Sasha with four hoopers tunnels

I bought some sandbags for the tunnels from ebay.  They were very good value and they can be used for both agility tunnels and Hoopers tunnels.  The sandbags are a triangular shape and although they're heavy if you fill them right up they really hold the tunnels in place.  We've found that when we use sandbags in an indoor riding school the agility tunnels keep moving and the judge has to adjust them every couple of runs.  We're looking forward to trying out the new sandbags to see how well they perform.  The initial trials in the training field have been excellent.  Here's a close up of the new triangular sandbags.

A triangular tunnel sandbag

If you're interested in buying some of these you can find them here.
 Just click on the image or on the link

Hoopers sandbags from ebay

  ebay Hoopers sandbags

In the video below Sasha tries out one of the new tunnels and has fun through the hoops.

Sasha doing some hoops and a tunnel

Making Hoops

If you want to have a go at making some hoops they are easy and quick to make.  I bought most of my pipe from Screwfix but if you don't have shop near you all the pipe can be bought from ebay.

How to make a hoop

To make one hoop you'll need

  • A hacksaw

  • About 2m of white overflow pipe. (I used Floplast pipe which is 21.5mm)

  • 2 x Tee pieces to fit the overflow pipe

  • 1 x 90 degree bend to fit the overflow pipe

  • A hula hoop or if you're making several hoops a reel of PEX pipe.  I paid about £15 for this in Screwfix.

    Jilly and some PEX pipeThe photo was sabotaged by Jilly so I took one from the Screwfix site. 

    I bought the 15mm x 25m reel shown below.

  • A roll of PEX pipe



    I tried to take a photo of a hoop without Jilly in but once again she saw the camera and wherever I put the hoop she posed behind it. I think this comes from rewarding her when I want a picture of her posing with a rosette or trophy and she's tired.

    Hoop dimensions

    From the Hoopers South UK guidelines

    The height at the top of the rounded hoop should be 914mm -965 mm (36”- 38”) and the width is 864mm -914mm (34”-36”). The hoop is constructed of two main pieces, the base and the hoop. The base of the hoop should be 864mm -914mm (34”-36”) wide. There should be support feet extending 305mm -356mm (12-14 “) in each direction on one side. The uprights should be 406mm -457mm (16” – 18”) tall.

    The base is made from 19.5mm (¾”) PVC pipe (e.g. overflow pipe). The “hoop” part is made from hula hoops or PEX pipe material that is 2336mm (92”) long and is inserted into the base uprights. The PEX pipe is pushed in until it contacts the bottom of the hoop base.

    Hoop bases can be made from other materials providing they are safe and have no sharp areas where a dog could injure themselves. Hoops can be weighted down (e.g. sand bags) or pegged down in order to maintain their position outside in the elements.

    To make the hoop just cut the 19.5mm overflow pipe to the lengths given in the handbook.  You need two uprights, one base and two support feet plus a small length like the one shown between the tee pieces below. This is to fix the tee pieces together.

    Tee pieces

    Fix the two tee pieces together like this

    Tee pieces fitted together

    Then attach the support feet and put one end of the base piece into the tee piece and the other end of the base into the 90 degree bend.  Put the uprights into tee piece and the bend.  Cut the PEX pipe or the hula hoop to the right length and push them into the uprights all the way to the bottom.  Hey presto you have a hoop.

    If you make some more you can have a bit of fun in the garden.  Here's a couple of videos.  Just click on the images to view.

    Sasha playing hoopers in the garden

    Jilly playing hoopers in the garden

    For some basic Hoopers training here's a couple of drills to be going on with


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