Wednesday, 15 July 2015

First orienteering coaching conference

On Saturday we had our very first orienteering coaching conference and it was held here in Jo'burg. We've got a bunch of British Orienteering Federation Level 1 and Level 2 qualified coaches in SA (myself included for Level 2) and we've been aligning our coaching content to the British Orienteering Federation to deliver a range of coaching courses locally.

We had a good spread at our conference with our coaches from Jo'burg and Cape Town as well as our one from Polokwane. And then two teachers. The one from my schools league came with one of his students; a keen participant for a few years in the schools league. The second teacher is new to orienteering and he comes from a school in the older league; he's taking over his school's orienteering activities next year. A good bunch of people assembled.

We did a bunch of stuff during the day.

Tania (our head coach for the Federation) and coordinator of this conference, arranged for her biokineticist to talk to us about running form and injuries and what to look for in our athletes. He was really interesting.

And then a bunch of us shared training games, which we all tried. We often use games - using cones and cards and such - to teach specific skills in a controlled environment before sending our athletes into the wild yonder. They're great for warm-up activities too.

For the activity session I invented a new cone grid. I especially love cone grids for teach map orientation skills - where features in the environment are used to orientate the map. Also for thumbing - it sounds arb but it is critically important to keep your thumb on where you are. And, in this particular game, for using attackpoints (those that have been through coaching with me... these are your purple circles) to guide you into the control.

I created a circular cone grid and I was delighted to challenge myself - and all the participants - with this grid. I think this is the highest echelon in cone grids. And it is also really easy to set up.

Here is the coaching card. Enjoy!

The final session was a practical activity where we learned a great technique for bringing in challenging navigation to a small, familiar area - like a school property where the students know their school inside-and-out. This was a fabulous activity where I made a 180° error at one point. What fun!

We'll hold these gatherings every second year and I look forward to even more coaches talking and playing and learning at the next one in 2017.

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