Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tero's technique


From a Swedish newspaper interview with Thierry Gueorgiou (quickly translated):

"I have the experience necessary to not be bothered [by contact with spectators, cameras in the forest, etc]. I've also done orienteering training with headphones and a radio to practice my ability to keep concentrated despite external distractions," he says.

How do you describe your strength as an orienteer?

"I trust my ability to correctly simplify the map," he says.

When I give Tero a map and ask him to sketch how he sees the map between two controls, I get back - in a few seconds - a sketch that would be a completely functional simplification of the challenges the leg has.

Of about 70 map symbols, he has picked out 5. What looked like a difficult orienteering leg now has the difficulty of a beginner's course. Through this approach, his course becomes easier than his competitor's, I think, and test my idea on the world champion, who laughs, "yes, that is right; that's the right way to describe my orienteering technique."

This ability to simplify the map is something Tero practices continually. And he doesn't need to go out in the forest to keep it.

"You can train anywhere. You're brain doesn't notice the difference between a picture of reality and a mental image," he says.

This method requires a lot of concentration. But staying focused for an entire race is, according to Tero, impossible. When competitors try to continually force themselves to have a deep and long-lasting concentration, the professional from Saint-Etiene looks for opportunities to rest.

"Everyone talks about having to be 100 percent focused from start to finish, but that doesn't work. The key is to know when you can relax. During my middle distance final in Ukraine there were several parts of the course when I was thinking about things other than orienteering," he says.

The idea of taking a rest from concentration is pretty interesting. When I'm orienteering, my mind wanders. But, it isn't usually on purpose. Tero is letting his mind wander where he wants. That makes a lot of sense and probably takes a lot of practice.

I only recall one other orienteer who has described taking concious breaks from concentration.

You hate to generalize from a small sample size - 2 in this case. But, those are 2 very, very good orienteers.

Another observation - that's a pretty sophisticated article about orienteering technique to show up in a regular daily newspaper. That, in and of itself, is cool. It got me wondering if the journalist - Mikael Nyberg - was an orienteer. A quick Google search finds his name in orienteering results for one of the Stockholm clubs. So, that probably explains it.

The entire article is here and is worth a read if you can manage the Swedish.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 2:47 PM


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