Monday, November 12, 2012

The 5 Stages of Orienteering Grief

There is no such thing as a perfect race in orienteering. We all make mistakes of varying sizes, but it can be hard to come to grips with them. You may experience denial about your mistakes, anger at the course setter, bargain about what could have been if only… wait this may sound familiar. The five stages of grief, usually applied to major life changes, are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These stages can occur in any order and be applied to other things, such as sports injuries (for instance, at first we often deny we are injured)! Perhaps a better understanding of these stages can help us deal with our orienteering hang-ups?

While making a mistake orienteering you might deny the error, bargain about still being where you wish you were, be angry with yourself for making a mistake, and be depressed about the amount of time you have lost. The main thing is that to recover in the best possible way from the mistake, and to most effectively continue the rest of the course, you need to accept that you made the mistake.

You may also experience the five stages of orienteering grief after an orienteering race that went south. You might be angry with yourself, the course setter or mapper. You might comb through the splits analyzing how things could have gone better, or be depressed at coming up short of your expectations in the results. Again, you need to get past this so that these thoughts are not bothering you during your next orienteering race. You need to get to the point of acceptance where you have learned what you can from your race but are no longer dwelling on it.

The question is, how best to do this?

For fun, and for further understanding of the 5 stages: a giraffe in quicksand.  

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Sport psychology strategies?


  1. That video is great. Thanks for an interesting post Louise.

  2. Acceptance - it can take years. I still remember that time... ;-)