This page has a list of orienteering exercises, with a brief explanation and diagram. Many of the exercises can be adapted to make them easier or more difficult.

Bearings to a line feature

Place a control (1) on a line feature. Place a number of other controls (1A,1B...) to either side.

Drifting off the bearing will cause the orienteer to end up at one of the other controls.

Either place a sign at the incorrect controls saying 'too far left', or allow the orienteer to continue with the exercise to figure it out on their own.


Plan a course which has two loops from a central start/finish location. It is good if the leg (3-4) between the loops goes through the start/finish.

The second loop should be longer than the first.

This exercise is good after introducing a new skill/technique. The coach can assess the progress of the orienteer after the short loop.

Penalised Norwegian

Norwegian courses have a section of map at each control which has the location of the next control.

Place two control flags close to each other, one on the correct feature (1) - the other on an incorrect feature (1X).

Any orienteer visiting control 1X will have to visit a penalty control 1P to find the location of control 2.



The SpiralO exercise is a form of handicapped race, and allows orienteers of different abilities to compete against each other.

Controls are placed in a spiral leading into the finish at the centre. All the orienteers start from the finish and are allocated a different first control to go to. They must then continue along the spiral to the finish. The technical and physical difficulty of the legs can get easier as the finish is approached.

The first orienteer to make it back to the finish (and having visited all their controls) can be declared the winner.

Download SpiralO PDF

Sport Pitch Sums

Place a number of numbered cones on a sports pitch or court. The cones need to be at intersections of lines, or obvious midpoints.

Create a series of maps with courses on. The orienteer must follow the course and sum the numbers on the cones.

This exercise is good for thumbing the map and keeping the map orientated.

Star Course

Place a number of controls around a central start/finish location.

Create a set of maps which has one control per map (and the start/finish)

Each orienteer visits a control and then goes back to the finish (to get another map)

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