Basic Navigation Routine – Intermediate + Skills Tool Kit – Advanced Strategies and Beyond Advanced
Better Orienteering aims to help you get better at orienteering. It introduces orienteering skills in a structured way and includes videos and free downloads.
If you are a newcomer who has not been orienteering before, or you have only been a few times, have a look at the Beginner section.
If you have been orienteering a while and want to build a solid basis for good navigation then look at the Basic Navigation Routine section under the Skill Levels menu. Also have a look at the Skills Tool Kit under the Intermediate section
If you are unsure of where to start, or have been orienteering a bit longer and you have hit a point where your orienteering is not improving then after browsing Better Orienteering you could try the self-diagnostic questions under:
How well am I orienteering? It will help you identify the building blocks you need to get in place to improve.
If you are a teacher, the Teaching section will help you start finding resources. See also Books and Resources. There are videos and downloads throughout Better Orienteering that may help you, once you are clear on the level of material you are needing.
Better Orienteering works through a set of ideas that will help you join up your skills effectively and use them reliably when orienteering. That is why this website, and the guide that accompanies it, are not just a list of skills.
Better Orienteering Summary
You can download and use this summary as you work through Better Orienteering. It is web-linked pdf so that when you click on headings or diagrams within it, it automatically opens the relevant web page on Better Orienteering. Feel free to share this summary widely as a way for people to access what is on this website.
(Note: throughout Better Orienteering, text in bold is for emphasis. Links are in blue text)
What is included and linked to on Better Orienteering?
Better Orienteering Navigation model
Better Orienteering is based around this navigation model. The different elements of this model are explored in a structured way throughout Better Orienteering, applicable to different skills levels: Beginner, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Beyond. Understanding this model in more detail is mostly applicable to orienteers progressing through Intermediate level and beyond, absolute beginners need not worry about it.
Why this guide?
This guide was produced to create an easy to access resource for orienteers to find good material on how to navigate and how to improve. It draws together a lot of excellent material from many countries in one place. It has only been possible due to the generosity of many orienteers who have agreed to their videos and other material to be linked to in Better Orienteering.
You can download a web-linked version of this overview graphic to share. It links back to sections of the Better Orienteering website:
Better Orienteering, after the Beginner section, is aimed at club level orienteers of all ages, who have some experience and are seeking to improve. My aim has been to summarize the key techniques that prove most helpful on a regular basis, so that they are easy to remember and apply consistently.
Once you read beyond the Beginner section, some familiarity with a range of very basic orienteering navigation techniques is assumed, such as how to take a bearing, and how to read contours. The discussion of techniques on Better Orienteering not intended to be exhaustive, just a structured framework covering the essentials, that you can then build on.
There is much more material in Suggested Reading.
The only route to getting better is to make mistakes, understand what went wrong and seek to avoid repeating them.
Improving at orienteering is largely about understanding what mistakes you made, how they came about and how to watch out for them in future. Better orienteering then becomes a matter of routines and habits to set you up for a reasonable run, whilst being alert to a catalogue of potential errors.
Orienteering is one of the most demanding sports there is. Nothing else combines the high level of physical challenge resulting from running through terrain and the intense mental challenge arising from detailed navigation. I amazed that after 40 years of orienteering there is still more to learn and much to re-learn. The typical learning curve for new orienteers is at least 3 to 5 years to get their navigation up to a high standard and combine it with good fitness, but once you are hooked it becomes addictive. Then you need to keep your skills fresh with practice.
I hope enjoy reading more on orienteering skills in whichever section is most helpful for you.
Below is a fuller list of contents on Better Orienteering. This is mainly included for more experienced orienteers navigating this website looking for something specific. The headings correspond to Menu items of the website. The list is a good overview, but content keeps being added to Better Orienteering, so there is more content when you explore different sections.
Video – Start Orienteering a Newcomer’s Guide
New to orienteering? Some tips – a visual summary
IOF 3 videos
- The Map
- Planning your route
- Finding your way
British Orienteering Newcomer’s guide
Introduction to map symbols
ISOM 2017 map symbols – Maprunner
IOF control descriptions 2018 – Maprunner
Colour coding explained
Video – Orienteering more than just running
Where can I try orienteering?
British Orienteering Events list
Ollie O’Brien’s events map
Forestry Commission Permanent Orienteering Courses
Example of a permanent orienteering course
British Orienteering list of permanent courses
Basic Navigation Routine a visual summary
Why this guide? An overview of Better Orienteering
Routines, concepts and strategies
Remember the basics, have a firm navigation routine
Fold the map
Orient the map to north
Break every leg into 3 parts
Video- Setting the map
Go steady to number 1 and get into the flow
Orienteering is about navigation much more than it is about running
Stay in constant contact with the map and compass
Video – Using the compass
When you become unsure of where you are, relocate yourself straight away
Only run as fast as you can think
You vs the navigation
Don’t simply import your navigation techniques from other scenarios
Spend more time running with maps
It is easy to lose time but very difficult to make it up
Everybody makes mistakes all the time
Anticipate errors and enjoy continually relocating
Video – Aiming Off
Treat every leg as a new beginning
Ignore other people never talk
Route choice – Look at the options for a leg, weigh them up, then commit
Video – Route choice
Know when and how to simplify
Video – Simplification
Orienteering styles do vary, there is no one right way to navigate
Identify a virtual corridor to track within
Control flow is important but difficult to execute well
Have the bigger picture in mind
Decide what type of leg you are facing
The right approach for the course in hand
Every map is wrong and orienteering maps are amazing
More certain vs Less certain features
Improve your distance estimation
How to join it all up
It doesn’t have to all be in words
Improve your mental maps
Video – Intricate Contours
Feeling the terrain
Develop an extended race routine
Conclusion – how far can you take your skills?
2 articles by Tierry Geourgious
Video – Last run of the king
How well am I orienteering?
How well am I orienteering? 3 self-diagnostic questions
Review your route and performance afterwards
A catalogue of errors
Do practice, don’t only race
Race analysis table
Suggested reading and resources
Books and Resources
Better orienteering as a download
Other free downloads
Useful websites on orienteering and other resources
World of O
SLOW Get up to speed videos
Video – An introduction to orienteering from NEOOC
Orienteering Canada Skills
On the Red Line
British Mountain Bike Orienteering
O Maps at World of O
Open Orienteering Map UK