Better Orienteering a guide to orienteering skills

  • Orienteering clubs, please do link to Better Orienteering from your club websites and mention it in club communications

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.

See the Quick Start section for your quickest route into Better Orienteering – skills from Beginner to Advanced and beyond

Quick Start

Better Orienteering is written and edited by Duncan Bayliss of Wrekin Orienteers in the UK. Better Orienteering has 35+ videos, free resources, free downloads and many links to where you can find out more. It includes material from the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Australia and contributions from more than 20 orienteers, many of them elite competitors.


This video Start Orienteering, is the first of the Get Up To Speed series produced by SLOW (South London Orienteers) – You will find the other videos linked to as you work through Better Orienteering

The Get Up To Speed playlist on YouTube includes:

Think Fast, Run Hard, Go Orienteering
Setting the Map
Using the Compass
Attack Points
Large Contour Features
Route Choice
Intricate Contours

On Better Orienteering there are several series of videos (over 30 videos in total) showing you how to orienteer as a beginner and to help you as you improve


There are free downloads explaining the basics you need to start navigating well and there are links to many useful sources on orienteering, including many resources which are free to view or download. Individuals and clubs are welcome to download and use the free downloads.


Finally there is structured discussion of orienteering skills from beginner to advanced, to help you develop as an orienteer, based on a model of orienteering navigation, which is discussed in more in several places.

New posts to Better Orienteering are linked at the bottom of this page as content is added.

(Note: throughout Better Orienteering, text in bold is for emphasis not clickable links. Links are included as the link address that you can click on. You can also find what you are looking for from the menus or by searching key words in the Search widget)

Duncan Bayliss, 2019

See the Quick Start section for which part of Better Orienteering is right for you, or keep reading below for a fuller introduction

Photo: Steve Rush BOK


Introduction and Overview

How Better Orienteering is structured

For a long time there has been a need for an easy way for new and improving orienteers to explore what orienteering navigation is all about  and learn how they can develop their navigation skills.  Better Orienteering is designed to fill that gap.

The aim of Better Orienteering is to provide an easily accessible resource that will help orienteers think about how they navigate and how to improve their orienteering technique.  It offers a structured way to think about orienteering skills and how you can progress through them.  It also acts as a guide to many excellent resources available to help you learn more about orienteering skills and training.  

Better Orienteering is built around this Navigation Model. It is returned to and explored in later sections.

Better Orienteering builds understanding of the whole process of orienteering, from preparing for a race, to how to navigate, to analysing your performance afterwards.

Better Orienteering Navigation Model – incorporates a Process model by Kris Jones

Better Orienteering identifies first of all the most Basic Techniques that form a BASIC NAVIGATION ROUTINE.  The Basic Navigation Routine must be mastered and work like clockwork as the basis for all your orienteering.

Skills progression is then explored in stages from Basic to Advanced, so that you don’t feel the need try to master everything at once. 

The Intermediate section introduces a SKILLS TOOL KIT.

The Advanced section focuses on STRATEGIES to help you use the skills you have learnt effectively in races.

In the Beyond Advanced section some ideas are discussed on how you can begin to take your technique much further, such as developing an integrated race routine and taking account of sports psychology and learning from elite orienteers.

There are suggestions on how to analyse your orienteering performance and links to further resources on training.

Finally there are suggestions of helpful Resources, many of which are free to view or download and links to websites and books on orienteering.

Where do I start?

If you are a complete newcomer to the sport, then the Beginner section links to an excellent introductory video and other resources that will give you what you need to know to start orienteering.  You will need to complete several orienteering courses before much of this website starts to make sense.  The books in the Suggested Reading section will help you too.

If you have some orienteering experience, I suggest you start with the self-diagnostic questions, How Well Am I Orienteering? (see Menu).  This will help you gauge where to focus on improving.  Although it will help you focus on what you need to work on next, it is still worth reviewing all the techniques from Basic Navigation Routine upwards, so as to be aware of them.

After the quick test work through the discussion of skills:

Basic Navigation Routine – Intermediate + Skills Tool Kit – Advanced Strategies and Beyond Advanced  

You can go through the skills material in whatever order works for you.  However, it is worth repeating that if you do not have the Basic Techniques locked down and working reliably all the time, you will keep making easily avoidable mistakes.

To get most value from this guide and the discussions of techniques and skills, you will have to be really honest with yourself about what you are doing wrong.   You will need to analyse your races and note what you did to see the most common mistakes and issues which you can then work on.  See the suggestions under Race Analysis for how you might do this.

Finally, do consider contributing.   If you are aware of resources, articles, websites etc not covered but that you think should be included, or you have skills material to contribute then please do get in touch.  See Contact and Contribute.  I am grateful to the many experienced orienteers who have already made contributions to Better Orienteering.

CompassSport article about Better Orienteering

This article in CompassSport the UK orienteering magazine gives an overview of how Better Orienteering came about and what it aims to do.

You can download the article here:

Skogsport article

Skogsport the Swedish Orienteering Association’s magazine ran an article on Better Orienteering in October 2019.

You can download the article in Swedish here:

A translation into English of the Skogssport article is here:

Fair use policy

Please do link to this site from Orienteering Club websites so beginners and improvers can easily access material on skills. Do give your feedback on how helpful you have found the material here so it can keep improving. 

You are welcome to copy and use the Free Downloads as is without modification.  If you refer to specific downloads or content from Better Orienteering, on a club website, you must include a web link back to Better Orienteering so that the material can be viewed in its original context. You should attribute Duncan Bayliss as the author and Better Orienteering and its web address as the source.  e.g  Downloaded from Better Orienteering by Duncan Bayliss,

Please contact me Duncan Bayliss for permission for any other use of material on Better Orienteering (Use the Contact page).

Permission to re-use material included in Better Orienteering contributed by other persons such as photographs and map extracts, should be sought from the original authors/ producers.

If you have suggestions for improved versions of any of the free downloads or the website please email me. See Contribute


Duncan Bayliss, 2019

Copyright notice and acknowledgements

This website is copyright of Duncan Bayliss, 2019. All text written by Duncan Bayliss, copyright Duncan Bayliss, all rights reserved.

I have sought to state the sources for all linked material such as videos. Thank you to Sarah Brown (SLOW) for permission to include the Get Up To Speed videos. Copyright for all linked material rests with the original authors and producers, it is only linked to on this website. I am grateful for permission to include copyrighted material on this website including maps, map extracts, control symbols, map features and images. It has been immensely helpful that many orienteers have generously shared ideas and allowed material to be included here so that others can enjoy our sport.

Particular thanks must go to Martin Bagness (Warrior OC) (Maps in the Skills Tool Kit), Rod Postlethwaite (Wrekin), Peter Jones (Wrekin) (Map extracts in the Better Orienteering header and skills summaries) and Peter Bayliss (Wrekin) for permission to use map extracts.

Thank you!


The photographs in Better Orienteering are mainly by kind permission of Steve Rush (BOK) Copyright for photographs included on BetterOrienteering remains with the photographer as attributed.

For more of Steve’s orienteering photographs see:

The photographs on Better Orienteering are all of people orienteering in the UK and are intended to give a good overview of orienteering in practice. If for any reason you would like a photograph in which you feature not to be included on Better Orienteering, then let me know via the Contact section and it will of course be removed.

The section Contact and Contribute gives a fuller list of acknowledgements.

New posts to Better Orienteering

New content added to Better Orienteering is flagged here. The website continues to be developed. When new material appears, the post here should trigger an email to ‘Followers’ of the website (if all goes well with the technology!) If this is not working as intended I would appreciate an email from anyone following this site and I will try to fix it. Duncan Bayliss

20 June 2019 New verion of Skills Tool Kit published under the Intermediate section

CompassSport article about Better Orienteering added to the front page. July 2019

Sept. 2019 New video What is an orienteering map? By Andy Paterson of Clydeside Orienteers added to Beginner page.

Sept. 2019 New video, 10 elements of orienteering, by the Irish Orienteering Association, on the Beginner page

October 2019 Teaching section added aimed at pointing teachers to resources to use alongside Better Orienteering in teaching orienteering.

October 2019 Skogsport article added to front page.

November 2019 Article by Kris Jones, UK Elite, on orienteering navigation and a Process Model added to Further Articles section.

November 2019 Better Orienteering Navigation Model explained graphically and incorporated across the website.