Think about your orienteering from different angles

With orienteering there is always more to learn.

It can help a lot to think about orienteering navigation from the perspective of a range of different orienteers. You can take ideas from Better Orienteering and compare them to how you have been orienteering and you can also compare what you know to to ideas put forward by others.

The British Orienteering Coaching Conference 2021 included a very interesting presentation by Mark Nixon and Paul Murgatroyd.

Mark Nixon’s discussion of Plan, Picture, Direction (and Distance) is very helpful. It is really valuable to work out where you are making mistakes in that cycle. A small amount of time not spent making a robust plan can lead to a large error on a leg. Not stopping to add detail to your Picture (or visualisation) can lead to a time consuming error. Mark’s suggestion is that for very experienced and elite orienteers, mistakes in planning account for more time losses than in actually executing the leg.

The slides from the talk are here:


As we get more orienteering practice again after lock down, you may be experiencing the familiar problem of repeating mistakes you have tried to learn from many times before – it is just how orienteering is, but it shows how it is always helpful to think systematically about how we are orienteering, because as Mark points out, simply doing orienteering doesn’t necessarily make you better at orienteering!

You can relate Mark’s discussion back to the model of orienteering used across Better Orienteering: Plan, Picture, Direction – see below:

In creating a simple model of orienteering – Plan, Picture, Direction, I had included Distance under the heading of Direction without directly stating it. The challenge is to have something simple enough to remember and use when orienteering, but which can be related back to a lot of concepts. Following Mark’s comments I think it is helpful if Distance is now also mentioned alongside Direction.

The simplest way to remember the model is to have the cycle set out in the central column and the left hand column in mind when orienteering. The right hand column is an expansion of what is in the central column to link it to concepts discussed across Better Orienteering. It shows how there are several processes required at each step of Plan, Picture and Direction.

This model is a synthesis of insights from many sources, published and unpublished. Published sources include work by Kris Jones, Martin Lerjen, Michel Guergiou, Thierry Guergiou, Jan Kocbach and Duncan Bayliss. You will find their work included and referenced across Better Orienteering.

See in particular the Advanced and Beyond Advanced towards Elite skills sections of Better Orienteering.

Many other orienteers have commented on the model and helped refine it including Lynne Walker, Tony Callow, Andy Clough.

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