Building The Basics

training Alasdair

Alasdair The prime orienteering season in the UK is condensed into spring and summer with all the major competitions occurring over this period. The winter months are an opportunity to prepare yourself for the major races and I expect you thought about orienteering during this period: did you translate that into particular activities to develop particular aspects of orienteering? There is now just over a month to the British Championships so there's still some useful time to think about improving your performance.

There are many ways you can do this: working on your fitness, improving your mental routines to cope well in pressure situations and improving your basic orienteering technique which is what I am focusing on here.

I think there are six really useful questions to ask yourself every time you orienteer. Make sure you practise these over again so they become second nature when you are running in important races.

  1. Every time I look at the map is my thumb at my position on the ground and is the map orientated? It should be.
  2. When I look at the map did I do it with a purpose? Every time you look at the map you should learn some new information that will help you navigate.
  3. Have you made a plan for the leg before you start it? Having a plan will make it easier to navigate because you know what you are expecting to see. It will also help you make any mistakes smaller as you notice more quickly when things are not as you expected them to be.
  4. Have you checked the control description before you reach the control circle? Knowing what you are looking for before you get there makes the feature much easier to find.
  5. Can you take a compass bearing? If you can accurately use your compass to go in the correct direction you can simplify complicated areas of navigation.
  6. Can you imagine what the upcoming terrain will look like from the information on the map? This helps you look for what is coming up next and if what you see matches your expectations you will navigate more confidently and faster.

All the points above can be trained individually. Try doing this by running an orienteering course or a few orienteering controls with the mind-set of “for this section I will concentrate….” and then reflect afterwards on what helped you.

Working on these individual skills will improve your ability to perform them without thinking so they become ingrained into how you orienteer. Eventually you should be able to bring all the skills together naturally and easily and use them to do your best at the British Championships and beyond.

Ali's article Let's Start Well.

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