Improving your orienteering technique

Plan Picture Direction

Plan Picture Direction
Credit: Better Orienteering © Duncan Bayliss

Last Updated: Sun 12 Jan 2020

In BASOC we have a huge variety of orienteering experience - from those who have recently taken up the sport to those who have been doing it for a few years to those who seem to have been orienteering for ever!

No matter which orienteer you are, we can all benefit from examining our technique, checking to see if it has moved on along with, for example, the differences in the way maps are made now (using LiDAR data) compared with even the way maps were made 20 years ago. Course planning has also changed with the universal acceptance of electronic punching methods (SportIdent and Emit) and the use of software (Condes, Purple Pen) for the actual design of courses.

Let’s start with an example; how do you judge distance? Do you pace count? If you do pace count, is this almost all the time or is it when you are moving slowly from attack point to control? Is pace counting a ‘hang over’ from when maps were less accurate? Today maps accurately show a wealth of detail, do you actually use this to aid navigation – and so you could declutter your brain by removing pace counting and use this regained space for other processing!

How can you improve your orienteering?

Well, apart from coming along to Tuesday=O, asking questions regarding the exercises before you go out and talking about your experience on your return, there are ways you can improve at your own pace and in your own time.
We started this process with the Tuesday=O workshop on 3rdDecember 2019 when we looked at ‘How do you orienteer?’ and introduced the Plan – Direction – Picture model.

Are there other ways of improving your orienteering from the comfort of your home?

Better Orienteering (©Duncan Bayliss) is there to facilitate this. What is Better Orienteering? To quote from the website
Better Orienteering is a collaborative project to help newcomers start orienteering and to help existing orienteers improve. It aims to help people start and get better at orienteering, world-wide”.
The website is divided into sections:

I recommend that you first of all download the ‘Better Orienteering Summary’ PDF as this has the information which backs up the website detail.
Read quickly through the ‘Beginner’ sections.

Now move onto the Intermediate Techniques as a check (it is worthwhile downloading the Skills checklist). The only bit in this section which I think needs clarification is 'Rough compass'; I regard 'Rough compass' as taking an accurate bearing (i.e. ensuring the direction is 100%) but following it roughly & swiftly on the ground. There are good illustrations to work through with regard to the techniques of Attack Points, Handrails, Aiming Off, Catching Features and Relocation. I really like the explanation of navigating through a corridor of features. Maybe we need to work on this more during Tuesday=O?

Then head to the Advanced Techniques section which I think you will find interesting; it reinforces the Plan – Direction – Picture methodology introduced in December. This is further broken down into the Navigation Routine and the Skills / Strategies required for each. A screen shot of page 25 of the Summary is part of this post.

The Beyond Advanced is also worth a look, especially for the emphasis put on working on visualisation techniques (= heads up! while you are navigating through terrain).

The website uses videos to illustrate the points made; these are worthwhile watching to remind yourself of various techniques and how to use them.

So enjoy your exploration of Better Orienteering; come and speak to me about things you have found out, things which have been reinforced for you and what you want to work on during Tuesday=O sessions.

Happy orienteering and thank you to Duncan Bayliss for creating this resource for us all to use.
Lynne Walker