Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More about what makes a good orienteer


At the TJOC I had a "fireside chat" with some of the better juniors about what makes a good orienteer. I also had a similar chat with a group of the adult leaders at the camp. Tonight, I thought I'd roughly outline the main points I tried to make.

I began by explaining that I thought it takes three things to be a great orienteer and asked the kids to come up with those three things. It took just a minute or two to come up with:

1. Good navigation/technical skills.
2. Good running.

I then proposed that the third thing was motivation/drive/desire.

Next, I pointed out that we have a very good idea of how to get those first two things.

1. To get good navigation/technical skills you need to train and race a lot.
2. To become a good runner you need to do lots of physical training, especially running.

Most of TJOC is about those two things.

What does it take to have the third thing? Motivation/drive/desire...

One person (one of the leaders) said that it is something your born with. You either have it or you don't. None of the kids really had an idea.

I don't believe that motivation/drive/desire is something your born with. My thinking is that there are ways to generate motivation/drive/desire. I think it might involve being able to "tell your story."

Let me try to explain.

I've spent a lot of time listening to good orienteers. I've spent a lot of time reading what they've got to say. I watched some really good orienteers. I've reflected on my own experiences, both as an orienteer and a manager.

It seems to me that a lot of the best performers have clear goals and that when they articulate those goals, they tell a story. The story has a beginning in the past, a description of the present, and a view toward the future. The stories are concrete. The future usually involves a clearly stated goal and a set of steps to try to reach the goal. You can see that structure in a lot of what the best performers say when they talk about themselves.

You can see good examples from the training camp presentations from Holger and Sandy Hott Johansen (check How I Train and The Way to the Top).

Here is where I make a leap -- maybe if an orienteer develops their own story they will improve their motivation/drive/desire. Maybe the process of thinking through your own story -- even writing it down -- has an effect.

At TJOC, I told my own story (from the point of view of my orienteering when I was a 17 year old junior) and gave the participants a set of questions to think about that would, if they answered the questions, help them develop their own story.

I have no idea if my idea works. I have no idea if any of the kids will develop their own stories. But, it might work...

If anyone has any thoughts (even, "no way, what a flaky idea, that is just stupid") please feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment. I'd be interested to know what you think.

posted by Michael | 7:15 PM


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