Race Analysis


Review your route and performance afterwards

For all levels of ability it is essential to review your races and identify what went wrong and think about what you can do to improve. In this section we look at some common errors and how you can analyse your orienteering. There is a sample Race Analysis table to download and try.

The Advanced Analysis section links to elevate.run for more sophisticated analysis.

Reviewing GPS traces and drawing your route on the map help enormously.  Then try to categorize your errors to see what comes up most often. 

The minimum of analysis that you need to do

  • Draw your route on the map after running. Identify where you lost time and why it happened.
  • Note how much time was lost and what the key errors were and write it on the map.
  • Keep your maps in date order. You can then look back easily and see whether you are improving or simply repeating the same errors over and over again. That will help you see what you need to work on.

As you develop you can try more extensive analysis which is discussed next. This can take quite a bit of effort, so for many people it may be worth deciding to do more analysis for a certain number of races to see what patterns and themes emerge.

A catalogue of errors 

Here are some of the most frequent errors. You need to build your own list and keep updating it so that you can see clearly what your most common problems are and then work on them:

Not in the flow to number one, rushing, missed it

Left the control in the wrong direction

Ran a bit too quick, thinking fogged, made stupid mistake

Rushed from Attack point and circled around control

Responded to another runner’s presence and rushed or went off line

Parallel error on wrong path or other line feature

Misjudged distance and just kept on going hoping it would work out. It didn’t

Didn’t go to a firm Attack point so off line for control

Turned left instead of right because map not lined up with north

Took reverse bearing and didn’t realise I was going 180 degrees wrong

Didn’t see a much better/ easier route until afterwards because not allowing enough time to think

Drifted offline but didn’t know which way due to not aiming-off in the first place

This list could be much longer.  You need to draw up your own list.

Do practice, don’t only race

Photo: Steve Rush

If you only ever race and never train or reflect you will probably repeat the same mistakes over and over again.   When I was a junior I was really frustrated to have 3 bad runs at the Scottish 6 days, so on the rest day I went around the training area with my Dad trying to work what was going wrong.  In short, I was rushing out of controls not being accurate in my direction, not identifying a firm attack point and not slowing down on the fine navigation into the control.  I put those routines into practice and came second each of the next two days.

So, in addition to reviewing your runs the following can help a lot:

  • Shadow a better orienteer.  You can alternate navigating legs.  Discuss afterwards.
  • Walk round a course or the first part of a course as fast as possible trying to get all the navigation and control flow working without mistakes.  If you walk the first few legs, only allow yourself to run when they have gone totally error free.
  • Analyse your runs to see patterns of repeated errors and potential improvements.  Try using the downloadable Race Analysis Table below, to record your analysis.
  • Practice map memory.  Try running some legs without looking at the map.  It can develop your ability to simplify, but don’t get into the habit of not looking at the map, only do it as a specific training exercise, then go back to looking at it, a lot!
  • Practice fine navigation following every detail along a wiggly line on the map to totally tune in to the terrain and map.
  • Where land permissions allow, go around a course or particular legs again, but knowing where the flags are and note how you could have used the map to get right the first time. Remember – It is very important that you do not jeopardise orienteering access to an area by running there without permission. Orienteering is totally dependent on the good will of landowners.
  • Read more on orienteering navigation.
  • Review the discussion by top-level orienteers of their runs posted online such as at World of O.

Downloadable table to use in Race Analysis

Race Analysis Table

Routines, concepts, strategies     Event name/date   Event name/date    
    Yes/No secs/mins lost Comments Comments
Map to north        
Exiting right direction          
Attack point          
Finding accurately          
Map read correctly          
Aiming off          
Hand rail          
Accurate Distance estimation          
Catching feature          
Rough compass bearing        
Accurate compass bearing        
Steady to No 1        
Route appropriate to skill level          
Running within thinking          
ERRORS TOTAL Mins/secs      
No talking          
Ignored other runners          
Anticipating possible errors, planning for them        
Relocating quickly          
Treating every leg as a new beginning        
Good control flow          
Committing to route choice        
Varying speed to fit terrain / navigation        
Simplifying confidently          
ERRORS TOTAL   Mins/secs      
Simplifying and seeing notable features on map and ground        
Identifying corridors          
Planning ahead          
Visualising the control effectively        
Categorising types of leg and responding appropriately        
Recognising certainty of features        
Using less words          
Accurate terrain visualisation – good Mental Map        
Optimum route choice?          
Researched map and courses        
Calm mind set          
Good sleep, eating well          
Started well          
Positive emotional response to challenges        
Managed and maintained concentration        
Mins/ km          
Potential placing minus errors          

You can download a copy of this table to use below. Feel free to modify it and if you believe you have made an improved version, do email it to me and we can share it with others.

Advanced Analysis

For more advanced analysis see the Advanced Analysis section.

For links to more websites that can help with coaching and analysis see the Useful Websites pages of Better Orienteering