In the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series, the mental aspects of the competition can be just as taxing as the physical ones - perhaps even more so.
Just ask Chris Henning and David Moses.
Henning, of Walworth, N.Y., and Moses, of Snoqualmie, Wash., are coming off seasons in which they felt they performed at subpar levels.
"The STIHL Series is such a pinnacle for this sport, and I just let my nerves take over too much and overthink things a bit," said Henning, who is entering his third STIHL TIMBERSPORTS season in 2013. "More than anything else this year, I want to keep my composure and not fall on my face like I feel I have the last two years."
Henning finished seventh overall in the Mid-Atlantic Qualifier in 2012 and eighth in the Northeast Qualifier in 2011.
"On the springboard, I hit well at the block. But I was having problems on my pockets," said Moses, who first reached the STS in 2005. "I started talking with some of the other guys about it and getting some help."
Moses and Henning both said assistance from within the ranks of the series is always at hand.
"This is the only sport I know where people will help you or loan you a piece of equipment when they know there's a good chance that person can come back and beat you," Moses said. "There is always great sportsmanship in our sport."
"I've traveled to West Virginia and trained with Arden Cogar and (Chris) Bradshaw," Henning said. "I live pretty close to (Dave) Jewett, and I've always gotten good advice from him. Matt Marks and I are cross-cut partners, so we train together and really push each other. Guys help each other a lot."
Henning, 33, said his offseason is mostly spent in weight training until easing into event training before the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series qualifiers in March and April.
"I'm going with quite a bit more cross training, focusing on the muscles that help me in competition," he said. "It's much of a full-body, core-muscle regimen. Doing a lot of back exercises, working the lower back and the abdominals."
Moses said he, too, is a big believer in cross training.
"I just started back with my training not long ago actually," he said. "I've been doing some technique training as well, working on some of those things that were a little off last year, a few tweaks here and there.
"In addition to strength training, I've found that endurance training really helps you get in more practice. I was chopping two or three blocks and would have to rest. If I'm able to get in more work, it helps my technique."
Like Henning, Moses said he believes performing better at the mental game will help his overall competition. He finds that a saying from fellow competitor Mike Eash is a good starting point.
"Mike tells me, 'Perfect is the enemy of good enough,'" Moses said. "And that's the truth. At times last year, I was trying to push what I could do instead of just doing what I was capable of. In the Qualifier, I was putting too much pressure on myself.
"I'm going to work on that this year. Instead of working to be perfect, I just want to let things happen and let my training and technique take over."
The 2013 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series season begins with the Southern Qualifier at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., on March 15. Next will be the Midwest Qualifier at Michigan State University in Lansing, Mich., on April 6, followed by the Mid-Atlantic Qualifier at Haywood Community College in Clyde, N.C., on April 14 and the Northeast Qualifier at Finger Lakes College in Canandaigua, N.Y., on April 19. The qualifiers conclude with the Western Qualifier at the University of Montana in Missoula on April 26.
The U.S. Championships will be June 7-9 at Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.