Life Lessons from Crosscutting Competitions

Crosscutting competition

By Danielle Atkins, Owner / Forester at Land & Ladies

In college, I competed in crosscutting competitions.

For those who don’t know about crosscutting, it is incredibly physical, but also mental. It takes strength, yes. But at the time of this event, I was only 5’3” and roughly 110lbs, proving that size doesn’t necessarily equate to strength.

Did you know that you never actually push the saw to cut through? You only pull. Both you and your partner perform a serious of “pulls” until you get through the log (called a “cant”). Your natural instinct is to push AND pull the saw with your partner, thinking that your pushing the saw back is actually helping, when it reality it’s hindering both of you from efficiently and effectively cutting through.

Why the hindrance when you push the saw? It seems like a natural movement. But by doing that, you will bend the saw and get hung up, stall your cutting, or actually break teeth on the saw. This is because you have unequal momentum and strengths fighting AGAINST one another rather than complimenting one another. This is where the mental aspect of the event comes into play, because only “pulling” the saw allows your team to maximize each side’s strength and skills. You have to mentally stop yourself from pushing and hindering your team.

Crosscutting competition

Why so much detail about crosscut? Here is my larger point:

Crosscutting competition

Crosscutting mirrors many landowners’ perceptions of their land management. So many times, men and women (fathers/daughters, husbands/wives) are both trying to achieve a common goal and performing what they think is the appropriate actions to meet the goal, but end up hurting one another’s efforts without even realizing it. It is so rewarding and effective to work together, once both partners realize what needs to be done.

Rather than both of you trying to push and pull the saw, both of you trying to take control, or maybe one doing “all the work” to complete the goal “faster,” work together. Complement each other’s strengths and skills to make the team more effective and efficient in getting through to the other side. It takes intention and purpose to do this, but once you find the right rhythm it’s amazing the results you can achieve.