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Thursday, 19 March 2009

First Control Ponderings

A friend asked me the other day for some tips on first control technique. Now I'm not really the person to ask having made more than my fair share myself, but I thought about it a bit and remembered a few of the bloopers I have made and came up with some ideas.

Nerves? They are only wires in your head

The stock answer is go slow, give yourself time to get into the map. Now this is all well and good, but it has to be time well spent. Oceania relays I picked up the map went real slow, concentrated on going slow, couldn't really identify anything on the ground, and made a big flat slow error. I came to the conclusion going slow is no good.

So I was thinking the other day, what is it that is different between the first control and others. Theres the usual answers; nerves, distractions, concentration, not into "the map", but the one thing that I came up with is that the first control is often the only one where you run through your start point (the start triangle) at full speed. We practice doing orienteering legs from control to control, much more often than we do from start triangle to control, and as we know orienteering is a fine balance game between speed and navigation. I followed this thinking and looked back at a few maps and found that almost all my first control mistakes came on controls which involved a decent run to the start triangle (as opposed to those you pick your map up at the start triangle or close to).

Maybe it would be a better strategy to replicate what I do most often, run from control to control. Use the run to the start triangle to plan ahead, assess exit direction then slow down and even fake punch the start triangle before treating no1 like anyother leg, including if necessary a compass bearing right from that point, not on an angle at speed. Just some thoughts anyway, whaddya reckon?

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