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Improving Upon a Fastest Speedcube Time

I must state that I am not a Doctor and nothing contained in this article is or should be taken as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment (see disclaimer).

In speedcubing fractions of a second matter especially at the higher or elite levels in terms of competition and the setting of world records for various speedcubes and the different categories of speedcubing competition in which the difference between competitors and/or setting records can be literally a thousandth of a second in time. A newcomer or novice to this activity should not be thinking of setting fast or a record time as they are learning from scratch the sequences to solve a particular speed cube and until they have memorized these sequences and can do them automatically without thinking the times they will achieve will be slow. Once the sequence(s) of a particular speed cube have been learned and can be done automatically without thinking it does become all about speed and achieving the fastest time that a person possibly can as this is what gives speed cubes most of their replayability. The fastest times set by a person once they have memorized the sequence(s) for a speed cube can initially come down very quickly by sometimes even minutes at a time but there will eventually come a point when these improvements in times will stagnate. When this stagnation happens the difference in fastest times being achieved will narrow and this difference in best times will be seconds and then when that particular speed cube has been basically mastered the difference will be fractions of a second as this is getting to the absolute limit in regards to what record time can be achieved by that person factoring in their ability. One of the most frustrating things about speedcubing can be knowing that a faster time is possible but can never seem to achieve it so here are some ways that I have improved my times that have helped me as a beginner and as my level improved both as a speedcuber and for a particular cube.

The actual device the times are recorded with can be the problem particularly in the beginning when those new to speedcubing will likely not have acquired a speed cube timer board yet which would be the best and correct way to record speed cube times as this is the way it is done in competition and how official world record times are timed. A speed cube timer board is designed specifically for the task of timing speed cubes and to make this as easy and as fun to do as possible. If one is not at hand though or owned then a watch, stopwatch, PC/laptop or phone of which most people will have one of these devices readily available to them can be used but these devices can potentially lead to times being recorded inaccurately and won't give a true like for like comparison with official times. However for a beginner or novice when starting out these devices that are not a speed cube timer board will suffice as the improvements looking to and that can be made will be massive so the accuracy and validity of times being recorded is not massively important yet and using a timing device is probably not even necessary at this point as times will be very slow and the focus should be on learning and performing the moves correctly. The next best option after a speed cube timer board would be to find and use either a speed cube timer app for the phone or PC/laptop or find and use a speed cube timer on a website as these have been specifically designed for this task and there are many to choose from that can offer many and different additional features. A speed cube timer app or website can replicate somewhat the experience of using a speed cube timer board so the transition to one will not take much adjustment but it is the additional features some can offer such as the recording of and the saving of times set and providing statistics and analysis of these times that can be really of use in helping to improve times. A very useful feature that I have seen with some speed cube timer websites or apps is the ability to record times and then compare these times with other users and to be able to do this with many of the different standard shaped speed cubes and by different, I mean in terms of their size and shape. How easy a speed cube timer app or website is to use and how much they have to offer varies but as apps can be and are rated by those who use them and there are reviews on the internet of the best speed cube timer sites/apps available then finding the right one that works for a particular individual shouldn't be too difficult. Speed cube timer apps or websites usually record times to a 100th of a second which is obviously not as accurate as a thousand of a second that a lot of speed cube timer boards record times at and it can be a 1000th of a second that can separate fastest times especially when a person has mastered a speed cube and is trying to break their fastest time so it becomes important when reaching this level that times are recorded to this degree. If a person has no access to the internet or a PC/laptop/phone and no speedcubing timer board either then a watch, clock or stopwatch would have to do and would suffice for a beginner and when starting to record times anyway as times will be very slow at this point and the differences between times and improvements will be big so the accuracy of times is not that vitally important. If the watch or stopwatch is digital and especially if it is able to record times to a 100th of a second then this would obviously be the better and preferred option to one that is analogue with hands in terms of recording and reading times accurately plus the time on a speedcubing timer board is also digital and that is what is used in competition and to set official world records. However, neither a digital nor an analogue watch/stopwatch/clock really replicates a speedcubing timer board in how they are used and operated so making comparisons with times that have been recorded by them with the times of a board would not be like for like at all and to a certain extent it is kind of pointless to do so. Also, some watches can have buttons that are difficult to press and need to be pressed hard or held down for a while to function especially watches that are not new and this would obviously make them unsuitable for recording speed cube times and why I would avoid if possible using a watch for this purpose.

Whichever device is used to record a speed cube time it is useful and important when starting to record these times to replicate as closely as possible how it would be done and recorded in a competition even when using a device that is not used in a competition which is anything that isn't a speedcuber timer board. This will be, depending on the device used, trickier with some devices than others to do as some won't operate like a speed cube timer board at all and it can also be irritating and difficult at first to remember and do it as it would be done in competition. However, this needs to be practised in order to, first of all, know how to do it and then secondly get good at or even master doing it the official way and with time this should become second nature and easy. If using a speed cube timer board then the competition rules and how the speed cube would be performed in a competition can be followed and practised exactly so would be ideal to have when starting out as a beginner and when first recording times. Using the speed cube board timer is a skill in itself that needs practising also so using it right from the beginning when first starting to record speed cube times is the ideal scenario and this device will also make recording times fun which in turn should make pursuing fast times fun as well. The times that are recorded with a speed cube timer board can be compared with the times of those who have also done it the official way and it can then also be accurately determined if/when the times are good enough for competition or to what level of speedcuber these times would be good enough to compete against. Using a speed cube timer board when first starting to record speed cube times and doing this as it would be done in competition means a professional standard will be cultivated right from the off and doing this should become automatic after a while and speed cubes quicker to perform and solve doing it this official way. Learning how to record the time of a speed cube and solve it as it is done in a competition is best done by either watching others in competition do it on youtube videos or in an ideal case finding someone who knows and has competed in competitions to show and teach how it is done. Being taught by somebody who has competed themselves in a speed cube tournament especially if they have been successful can also have the benefit of pointers being given as to how to perform the speed cube as it would be done in competition faster and any mistakes the learner makes can be seen and corrected. Finding this teacher might be tricky but this person could be possibly found through social media, a speed cube website forum, an internet search engine or by going to and asking at a speed cube tournament and the teaching itself could take place easily enough via a video call over the web if this teacher lives far away. It will be safer this way to learn from the teacher via videocall over the web than to meet and do it in person but would be better to do it in person from a learning standpoint as the teacher can then physically correct the mistakes of the pupil or physically help/aid them to perform a manoeuvre.

Competition rules are not the same for every tournament and can differ depending on who or what organisation is running the tournament so therefore it is important to look at a lot of different youtube videos to be able to see these different rule variations and how they impact performing a speed cube and then practice and know these rules. The rules and how a speed cube will be performed can also differ depending on the category of speedcubing with such categories potentially being 'speedcubing done with a blindfold', 'one-handed speedcubing' and 'feet speedcubing'. However, for a beginner, it would be best to stick to the standard regular two-handed speedcubing category known as 'speedsolving' until a good level has been achieved in this category or it has been mastered and then taking the skills acquired and trying potentially much more challenging categories. The speedsolving category is the category that is the most popular and commonly practised category for speedcubing when done as a hobby and the most common category in tournament play. The rules for this category and how the speed cube will be performed in a tournament for this category is usually the same or similar for most tournaments regardless of who is running the tournament except for very special cases or outlier tournaments. Therefore it should be relatively easy to adapt to and learn any different rules encountered for this category once one set of rules and how the speed cube needs to be performed with this set of rules is learnt and practised. The first set of rules I would learn and know how to perform a speed cube with and which are the most important set of rules to learn in speedcubing are the WCA rules as the WCA (World Cube Association) is an organization that hosts official events and with whom official world records are set and verified. The WCA have a website that displays the rules in written format or there are videos on youtube not affiliated with the WCA that explain these rules and show how to perform the speed cube under these rules and give competition advice. Following official rules is important as the best in the world and professional speedcubers setting the best times in world follow them and ultimately this is the level that most speedcubers aspire to be at so not following the official rules means times recorded will not be like for like with official times and therefore a comparison can't be made or a judgment as to how these times measure up. If the rules are not followed exactly when in competition then it will lead either the speed cube time recorded not counting, a penalty and/or disqualification from the tournament and could even depending on what rules is broken even be considered cheating which could lead to further more serious consequences than just a failed time, penalty or disqualification from that competition. Therefore as there are negative consequences for breaking the rules and to not have time and effort wasted it is important to read the rules for the particular speed cube tournament being entered beforehand and/or contact someone associated with the tournament and have them explain the rules or any doubts about the rules and then go practice performing the speed cube with these particular set of rules in order to know them and to produce the fastest times possible with these rules.

Each part/stage of solving and performing the speed cube in a competition is important to getting a fast time and not having it slowed down as it can be less than a second that separates times sometimes especially at the elite level and each part/stage means right from the very beginning when the scrambled speed cube is revealed and can be inspected until the end when it is completely solved and let go of and the timer board then stopped. Even not being in the right frame of mind mentally before the start and in advance of the speed cube scramble being revealed can lead to a poor time or one that will not be optimal so not being concentrated, not thinking about the task at hand, not calm enough or not ready to go would all be poor starting mindsets. Some speed cubes take longer than others to solve for example the 3x3x3 Rubik's cube has been solved in as little as 4.22 seconds whereas the 7x7x7 Rubik's cube takes much longer to complete and has a word record of 1 minute and 40.89 seconds so how a person would mentally prepare for each and their mindset when starting them in a competition is going to be different. This is because one is clearly more demanding than the other in terms of the time needed to solve it and the difficulty of it to solve and will therefore need more endurance both physically and also mentally in terms of concentration to perform it correctly and quickly. Whilst the other needs to be performed super quick and this is when fractions of a second really do come into play when a speed cube can and has to be solved in just a few seconds so there will be no time to really think about the moves in real-time once the timer is started and all the moves have to be done on autopilot which requires lots of practice to be able to do and do well. The category of speedcubing will also impact the type of mindset and the mental preparation needed just before starting a speed cube in that category in a competition in order to ensure a fast time. This is because some categories of speedcubing are more time consuming, are more demanding physically and mentally, demand different physical actions and are more technical than other categories, therefore, the preparation and mindset just before starting to attempt one of these categories needs to match that category for example feet speedcubing will obviously demand manoeuvres with the feet which regular speed solving does not so these actions with the feet must be clear in the mind and prepared for before the attempt starts in order to be ready to go and produce a quick time. Whichever category of speedcubing is being practised/competed in every stage of the attempt needs to be practised thoroughly including the stages that are not actually manipulating and turning the pieces of the puzzle to solve it as all the stages contribute to a fast or slow time with these stages being inspecting the speed cube or how to position the body to start the attempt. Once mentally prepared and ready to start an attempt it is then about putting the body particularly the hands in the right physical position and location to be ready to grab quickly the speed cube to be then able to inspect it when the judge reveals it for the first time but doing so in accordance with the rules of the category of speedcubing being performed and doing this should then help to get into the correct mental frame of mind for the attempt as well. It might also be a good idea to briefly practise with the speed cube before starting the attempt to get a good feel for the puzzle and to get rid of any nerves that are present and also to detect if the hands are sweaty and need drying as slippy hands can hinder manoeuvring of the speed cube pieces. When the judge removes the cover that is concealing the speed cube it is obviously then important to pick up the puzzle carry out the inspection and then put the puzzle down and start the timer board to begin the actual solve before the inspection time is over or a penalty will be incurred. The penalty if incurred will mean additional time will be added to the time of the solve and therefore needs to be avoided which can be tricky when the inspection time is so short. Therefore it is important to practise inspecting the speed cube which is the process of looking at the scramble and working out the manoeuvres needed to solve it as quickly as possible without actually manoeuvring any of the pieces as this is not allowed until it is put down and the timer board started and then being able to do this and also be able to start the timer board within this inspection time limit. The danger is rushing and not being clear about the manoeuvres that are needed or picking the wrong ones before putting the speed cube down and starting the timer board which if done will ultimately cost time trying to figure these manoeuvers out or correcting them whilst actually physically solving it. Therefore it is important to pace the inspection even if it means using almost all of the inspection time up in order to be clear about the manoeuvres and ensure the correct ones are chosen. Starting the timer board and grabbing the puzzle once it has been put down after it has been inspected is another important stage when wanting to record a fast time in an official way and needs to be practised repeatedly to bring the time of these actions down and that these actions become hardwired. The period before triggering the timer board to start the clock after the speed cube has been inspected and put down is about getting the body into position to start the timer board and taking a moment to get into the zone. Getting in the zone in this context means being ready and prepared to as soon as the timer board clock has been triggered to grab the cube and then to know and then make that first manoeuvre to start the series of manoeuvres that will resolve the puzzle. This getting in the zone period will take place whilst either the hands or feet, depending on the category of speedcubing being done, are placed on the pressure-sensitive buttons/pads on the timer board and once in the zone and obviously before the inspection time period is up the feet or hands can be removed and then the clock will start and physical manoeuvring of the speed cube will begin. The speed cube should be positioned when it is put down after it has been inspected so that the face or side that needs to be started on is facing the person attempting it which will eliminate the time that would have been unnecessarily spent on getting the speed cube to face this way after the timer board clock has been started. The actual physical solving and manoeuvering of the speed cube should have been practised to death before and right up until entering the completion in order to be sharp in completion and achieve a fast time. This should obviously be done with the precise speed cube being attempted in competition and practised in tandem with how it is to be performed in the category of speedcubing being entered. All the manoeuvres necessary for the specific speed cube being attempted in competition and the ones that work quickest for that particular person should be learnt and practised ad nauseam in order to do them as quickly as possible and so that at the competition when the speed cube timer board is started it is automatic what comes next which is the actual physical solving part. Practising over and over again is important in order to have practised as many different scrambles with the particular speed cube that will be used in competition as possible so the scramble that does appear in the competition will be familiar and not come as a surprise and throw the participant off. Another element of physically solving a speed cube that can cost or save time when it is to be solved by the use of hands is how high off the surface it is laid on it is to be lifted and held before starting to physically solve it and do the manoeuvres to complete it as the higher it is lifted before starting to physically solve it the more time that will be cost. Therefore it is important to lift the speed cube off the surface it is laid on once the timer board has been started as little as possible before starting to physically manoeuvre the pieces of it but of course with it still being possible to perform these manoeuvres unhindered and instead the person should move their head closer to the puzzle if a closer look is needed or move the speed cube closer to their head whilst in the process of performing the manoeuvres physically. This can also apply for inspecting the speed cube as well with the same benefit of not wasting any time unnecessarily by lifting the speed cube off the surface it is on too high up and taking too long before starting to inspect it but just high enough to be able to start and do the inspection process properly. It will be important to have practised both releasing the speed cube and then stopping the timer board clock, which comes immediately after the puzzle has been solved, before the attempt in competition to be able to do this as quickly as possible when in a tournament. Letting go of the cube as near to the timer board as possible and as little off the surface it is to be released on as possible whilst still being able to perform the physical manoeuvres will allow for the timer board to be stopped quickly after releasing the speed cube and therefore a faster time can be recorded and this may mean throwing the cube forward when releasing it in order not to drop it on top of the timer board. In a speedcubing tournament, I would get 5 attempts to perform the speed cube in whichever category of speedcubing I have entered into and with each attempt, I would be trying to produce the fastest time I possibly can and then when I have completed my attempts my best and my worst time of the 5 attempts are removed and an average of the remaining 3 times taken to give my final overall time. I will need to double-check the rules for whatever speedcubing tournament I intend on entering to ensure this is the case in terms of the number of attempts I will get and then I will practise this number of attempts so that I have the requisite focus and stamina for these number of attempts when I do arrive at the tournament. A way to improve my speedcubing skills could be to video myself so that I can rewatch back what I have just done with a speed cube and maybe spot mistakes or areas to improve that I was not able to spot before as I was either too concentrated on performing the puzzle or the different view the video gives reveals these mistakes or areas to improve which could not be spotted or would have been difficult to spot from the view I had when performing the speed cube.

Another option to improve on a best time could be to find and use another speed cube that is the same speed cube that was used to record the best time but just that this time it is a version that is made from another company and as there are many different companies that make speed cubes there could be plenty to find and try out. Reading reviews of speed cubes is a good way to find out which company produces the best version of a particular speed cube as there can be a common consensus amongst these reviews as to which version of a particular speed cube is the fastest. However, it is not always the case that there is a common consensus of which is the fastest because a version of a particular speed cube that produces the fastest times for one person may not produce the fastest times for another person due to speedcubers having different preferences for how they like a speed cube to feel to use and hold and that speedcubers have different speedcubing techniques both in terms of how they grip the puzzle and how they move the pieces of it. The inner mechanics and technology can also differ between speed cubes that externally look and are exactly the same but they are made from different companies and this is important to know because what is going on in the inside of a speed cube can make a huge difference to how quickly and smoothly it turns. Therefore testing various versions of the same speed cube made from different companies in person themselves in order to find the one that will get the best time for that individual is better than relying completely on other peoples opinions even if they are experts. The goal could be to get the best time for each version made from different companies of a particular speed cube so it doesn't matter which version is chosen initially as they are all going to be tried and used anyway. An old speed cube that was made and produced a number of years ago will most likely not have the newest technology incorporated into it, as there are always continuous advancements/improvements in speed cube technology and how they are made, that the latest ones do have that have been produced and come out in the last few years. This new technology can make manipulating the speed cube much quicker and smoother so trying a newer version of a speed cube could be a good way to improve a time and the difference could be very noticeable as well if the speed that had been previously used was very old.

Bluetooth is an example of new technology that has been incorporated into a speed cube specifically the 3x3x3 Rubiks cube that can help to improve times and works by using the technology built into it to track and record the manoeuvres that are done to the cube by the user. The manoeuvres that are done with this Bluetooth speed cube can then be seen in real-time in the form of a moving 3D image on a device that it is connected to via Bluetooth which will be either a phone or tablet. Numerical data from the Bluetooth speed cube can be then seen in real-time as it is being solved such as the number of moves done and the time that has been taken whilst offering other useful advanced stats that can be poured over and looked at once the cube has been completed. A Bluetooth speed cube is useful for both beginners and advanced speedcubers alike but it is beginners who will probably gain the most from this type of speed cube as it can teach them how to solve the Rubiks cube starting from the very basics and then has lessons for every step on the way to be able to perform the manoeuvres that are required to solve it and to be able to master it. Advanced speedcubers, on the other hand, will benefit more from being able to really break down their solve that they have accomplished with the Bluetooth speed cube as some versions of this type of cube allow the solves that have been done to be watched via replay and the notations for those solves to be seen. Being able to do this along with having access to other advanced stats means a solve can be broken down and each individual move analysed to find where the solve went wrong or what part of it could be improved which can be very difficult to do by memory if not impossible. A Bluetooth speed cube can have challenges such as solving a certain sequence or set of moves within a time limit and these challenges can be of different levels to help speedcubers of all levels improve and not all the challenges are just aimed at beginners. Some Bluetooth Rubiks cubes can have a very different feel to them in terms of holding and manoeuvring them compared to the standard Rubik's cube and it would be best to use a Bluetooth Rubik's cube that feels and manoeuvres if not exactly the same as a regular Rubik's cube then pretty similar to be able to compare times. It is not a massive problem if the Bluetooth Rubiks cube doesn't feel and manoeuvre the same as a regular Rubiks cube as it would still be a great device for improving at speedcubing specifically improving at a 3x3x3 Rubiks cube which is the only shape and size a Bluetooth speed cube currently comes in but it just means comparing times with a regular Rubik's cubes that would obviously be not like for like. Another potential issue and one that is important to be aware of with a Bluetooth speed cube is phone or tablet compatibility which needs to be checked before getting one especially if the phone or tablet owned is not brand new as the newer Bluetooth speed cubes that come out will tend to demand a more new and up to date device that has the technology to use it with. The Bluetooth speed cube is a new invention but I have seen that there is already a variety of different ones just for now in the form of a 3x3x3 Rubiks cube however this will surely change in the future depending on the device's popularity with surely different shaped and sized speed cubes to come out. The ability to compete virtually with other speedcubers from around the world who also have the same Bluetooth speed cube is another feature of this type of cube that can also help to improve times especially if those competing against each other are of a similar level of ability and this type of cube does make it easy to find a speedcuber based on ability level. Watching and analysing what an opponent does in terms of their solve and the moves they make whilst competing with them with a Bluetooth speed cube can also be beneficial and help to improve times as long as this doesn't detract from that persons own attempt as it may lead to discovering superior manoeuvres or better technique that they themselves can incorporate. Comparing times with other speedcubers who have used the same Bluetooth speed cube can also be useful to get an idea of what is possible in terms of fastest times with it and use this as motivation to improve these times or at least know it is possible to improve them.

Switching to stickerless speed cubes might also be an idea in order to improve times, although comparing times done with a stickerless speed cube to one that has stickers would not be like for like, as using a stickerless speed cube for some people can feel more comfortable or they feel they can get a better grip of it and this, therefore, allows for much faster times. This type of speed cube obviously has no stickers that some people don't like the feel of and also the fact that they can eventually start to peel off and then become a distraction when the speed cube that has them has been used a lot and these stickers will then need replacing which can be a pain to do. The size and shape of the stickers and how that particular speed cube's pieces move and will be operated can determine how likely they are to peel off so looking up on the internet what others have said about a specific stickered speed cube in regards to this issue is with doing before considering getting it. Stickerless speed cubes are allowed and legal in official competitions which wasn't the case until recent years although this should be double-checked before entering one because different tournament organisers have their own specific and different rules. Even though or if a stickerless speed cube is allowed in official competition it will still have to meet certain requirements or specifications in order to be legal and to be used in that competition and these requirements will have to be looked up for that specific tournament before entering it and so that type of stickerless speed cube can be got if the one currently owned doesn't meet the requirements and then practised with as well in advance. Stickerless speed cubes come in all the different shapes and sizes that sticker ones do with maybe a few exceptions so by choosing to use stickerless speed cubes there will not be a limited choice to have a go at but quite the opposite and there may also be shapes or sizes that can only be found in the stickerless form of the speed cube. Some people find it easier to see and identify the colours on a speed cube with stickers compared to a stickerless one as the stickers can really stand out especially when stuck on black coloured plastic which is the classic look of a speed cube. However, there are some stickerless speed cubes that have been made to look exactly the same in appearance as the ones with stickers on but these may not be the fastest of the stickerless speed cubes to perform for that individual even if it helps with identifying the colours on the cube.

Speed cubes can over time stiffen after repeated use or sometimes even be stiff when brand new when they have not been used at all and this stiffness can be barely noticeable but can still have a significant impact on times which is an issue especially when fractions of a second are the improvements trying to be made to a best time. When this happens a lubricant can be used that is specifically made for speed cubes, as it is a common problem that most speedcubers will face at some point with their cubes, then see if this does the trick and that the pieces of the speed cube after the lubricant has been applied can now be turned unhindered or more quickly and/or that times improve. Using a lubricant doesn't always have to be used in the case of noticeable stiffness but could be something to try when times have slowed down with a certain cube and there seems to be no obvious reason why this has happened. Expanding on this point it is probably a good idea to regularly lubricate the speed cube(s) that are being used as doing something regularly makes it routine and therefore will make it less likely that this gets forgotten to be done and so that if the speed cube does start to stiffen without this stiffening really being noticeable it will soon be lubricated and rectified. Lubricant can slow the speed cube down if too much is applied at once or too frequently but there are video tutorials on youtube showing how this is done correctly but may also require some trial and error to work out exactly how much to use for a specific speed cube. If too much lubricant is applied that then slows the speed cube down it will then have to be cleaned out thoroughly to fix this problem which can be a time consuming and laborious job. Cleaning a speed cube out involves taking it apart that depending on the type of speed cube can really be a painstaking and irritating job and that can risk breaking the puzzle so is a task that should not be done more than is necessary. Of course, the more times a person cleans a speed cube out the more practice they get at it and then the more likely they will be to get better at cleaning it and better means they do it quicker, more thoroughly and learn how to do it in a way that doesn't put the puzzle at risk of breaking. Cleaning a speed cube out though should still be done quite regularly if it is being used often as it is quite astonishing just how quickly a lot of dirt and other things can get inside the cracks of a cube which can then hinder the performance of the puzzle and hinder the performance of it quite a lot of if this dirt and other stuff is left to build up and clog the cube up. Cleaning the exterior of a speed cube is easier to do than the inside obviously due to easier access and is also quicker but if the cube has stickers then there is a risk they can come off as a result of doing this too often or too aggressively so should only be done when it is felt necessary and with as little force as possible to get the job done. Storing a speed cube in a container of some sort to protect it from getting dirt in it such as dust when not being used would also be a good idea and would save having to clean it out unnecessarily. Some speed cubes are easier to take apart than others to clean and some don't stiffen as much as others and these are factors to take into consideration before getting one along with the ultimate factors such as how quickly they perform and how durable they are. If a person has never played with any speed cube before then they may not even know that the speed cube they are using is stiff especially if the one they are using is brand new as they will just assume, as it is new, that is how it is supposed to perform when even brand new speed cubes can start off stiff sometimes. That is why it is important for anyone starting speedcubing and playing with a speed cube for the first time to lubricate the puzzle and then do this and also clean it regularly so that the speed cube will perform to its maximum potential and produce the fastest times it can and then the times produced from it will give a true reflection of the user's performance. The type of speed cube lube used can also be an issue as there are many different brands to choose but the safest bet is to use the lube from the same company that made the speed cube being used and that this lube will then be used on. However, the safest bet may not be the optimal lube to use for that specific speed cube or that gives that specific speed cube the feel that the person using it is looking for or that is the best value for money. Therefore trying and testing out these various brands of speed cube lube available will be the only way for sure to know which one will work best for a specific speed cube and for that particular person but seeking out reviews of the various speed cube lubes available can help to narrow the choices down as there are lots of different speed cube lube out there. Lube that is not specifically for speed cubes and other types of lubricants such as oil or grease could risk damaging the puzzle and even be harmful to the person using it so to be on the safe side I would avoid using them even if some people/speedcubers may recommend them in a review or tutorial.

Hand exercises I have found, in my case, to have helped strengthen and improve the dexterity and speed of my hands and fingers which has then led to improved speed cube times but hand exercises are not the most fun activity to do and I have had to keep at them in order to maintain the improvements in physical performance gained. Just like with my running in which when I started to do it regularly my endurance and speed improved over time likewise did my hand speed and endurance improve when I started hand exercises and I know from experience that if I stop the exercises then my hand speed and endurance will eventually decrease back to normal pre-exercise level. I do perform hand exercises with and without exercise equipment and I use exercise equipment that is specifically for the hands and I have discovered there is a surprisingly wide and diverse range of hand exercise equipment out there that can benefit and exercise my hands in different ways. I mainly do hand exercises without equipment when I don't have any equipment available to me which can be because I have either forgotten to take it with me when I leave the house or it is not possible or awkward to use it where I currently am. A lot of hand exercise equipment though is small and light in weight so is easy to carry with and on me and they need little physical space to use them so I can do them whilst sitting on the bus or train for example and can be done discreetly as to not attract attention from the other passengers. I find using the hand exercise equipment more beneficial and more enjoyable than just doing hand exercises purely with my hands and find I achieve the physical improvement in my hands quicker and attain a higher level of physical performance in my hands with equipment in comparison to without. I follow the advice and use exercises devised by professionals such as doctors, personal trainers and physiotherapists for somebody of my profile in order to avoid injury as a consequence of these hand exercises and will usually follow a video made by one of these experts so that I can see the exercise being done and know then exactly what to replicate. The hand exercises I have used have been straightforward and quick to find online as I simply use a well-known search engine and are often very simple to carry out and therefore easy for me to replicate. The hand exercise routines I have done can vary quite a bit in how long they take to perform and some have required that I do them multiple times a day every day whilst others required that I do them only 2 or 3 times a week in order not to potentially overstrain my hands and injure them. I only keep to one hand exercise routine at a time and follow the instructions that have been devised for that routine by a professional strictly and it has usually taken a few weeks for the hand exercises I have done to really start to bear fruit and see the benefit of them. I exercise both hands as both are needed for speedcubing but do I have one hand that is naturally the better hand in my case the right hand as I am also right-handed which means it is the more coordinated and skilled hand of the two like a footballer can have a preferred foot and be naturally right-footed or left-footed. Therefore I do dedicate more time exercising and trying to improve the coordination, dexterity and skill level of this weaker left hand so that both hands are eventually equally as good as each other and doing this has already resulted in better times and I can particularly feel that I am performing the speed cube better as I train up and exercise the weaker left hand. I also use the speed cube to exercise my hands and when I do this I will just focus solely on exercising my hands by replicating moves I would perform on the puzzle and not worry at all about the time or solving it just focus on improving the physical performance and skill level of my hands. The exercise equipment I tend to choose for my hands is the equipment that looks the most fun to use and that either will exercise the hand in a different way from the equipment I already own or that will exercise different parts of the hand compared to the equipment I already have. I will then find videos online for me to replicate that show exercises with the hand exercise equipment that I have chosen so that, first of all, I can use the equipment correctly and secondly that I have an exercise routine to replicate that is being shown by a professional(such as a doctor, personal trainer or physiotherapist) who knows how to get the best out of that equipment and to do so safely. I have watched videos online and read articles online by exercise professionals that recommend hand exercise equipment to help me select one as they have shown what they consider either the best equipment for a specific hand exercise, for example, squeezing and gripping the hand or they have shown what they consider the best of that type of hand exercise equipment, for example, the best grip ball. I also read and follow the instructions that come with the hand exercise equipment that I am going to use which usually include directions for use and safety instructions that are most of the time common sense but I still make sure I know them and looked at them before I start using the equipment. I also let my Doctor know when I see him that I am doing these hand exercises and what equipment I am using to ensure that I am not doing anything that will harm me or if they have any advice and if I am experiencing any pain in my hands whilst doing these hand exercises or after then I stop doing the exercises and immediately go see and consult my doctor about this.

Tiredness both physical and mental has been another reason why I have not been able to perform at my best with a speed cube in the past and as a result not be able to produce fast times for my ability or even get close and this tiredness I have experienced has mainly come about either through lack of sleep or quality sleep or through exhaustion as a result of my demanding job. When I am feeling really tired and lethargic I won't even bother playing with a speed cube at all because when I have practised with a speed cube when very tried in the past it has been unproductive and no fun at all and this has been demotivating so I leave it for another time when I don't feel as tired if at all. However, if I am only a bit tired then this is not going to or has discouraged me from practising and using a speed cube even though it will mean I am unlikely to achieve a best time in this condition as practice is important and I can't be too picky when I choose to do it. The impact tiredness has had on my speedcubing as mentioned has been physical in terms of my hand speed and movement but the more pronounced impact for me has been mental in terms of my thinking and decision making particularly being able to think clearly and remember manoeuvres. When I have spent too long playing and practising with a speed cube this has resulted sometimes in tiredness as well but more mental fatigue than physical and how long this mental fatigue takes to occur depends on what I was doing before I started playing with the puzzle, how alert I felt when I started with the puzzle and the time of day. Physical tiredness happens to me not so often with speed cubes and usually happens to me because I have been playing with the speed cube for many consecutive days and on those days for many hours or because I have been doing something else very physical not speed cube related that involved my hands and arms and it is this more than playing with the speed cube that has to lead to my physical tiredness. If I do become physically tired quickly or very physically tired when playing a speed cube then I just cut down on the amount of speedcubing I am doing depending on how tired I feel or stop speedcubing altogether for a while until the tiredness has subsided completely. I find it important for myself to not spend too long playing or practising with a speed cube because there does come a point when physical or mental tiredness does set in or even boredom and when this occurs it is unlikely I will improve after this point or that it will be a productive exercise for me anymore. My performance and speedcubing skills tend to decline when I get tired or bored so I find it is better from an improvement standpoint as well as motivation standpoint for me to have shorter speedcubing practice sessions in which I will not get tired or bored at all or in which I will only get a bit tired or bored than longer sessions which are more exhausting and in which I am likely and have got tired or bored. Shorter speedcubing practise sessions are also easier to fit into my daily schedule and the time of day when I feel most awake and alert so that I can make the practice session as productive as possible and it is through everyday practice that can I make and have made significant and continuous improvements even when my practice sessions are short in time. When I am mentally tired it leads to mistakes such as forgetting a part of the sequence I need to solve the speed cube that I am doing or I hesitate as the sequence is not coming automatically especially if it is a more complicated speed cube that requires more complex sequences. Another mistake that can occur when I am mentally tired is that sometimes I struggle to make split-second decisions which can result in delaying making the next move or getting that move wrong and these mental fatigue mistakes that I make will all lead to the slowing down of my times. I have noted that some speed cubes are more mentally and physically demanding than others due to them having a differing number of pieces and having different sizes and shapes and therefore with these more physically and mentally demanding ones I will shorten my practice sessions with them to avoid getting too tired and the quality of practice deteriorating as a result. What has worked well for me in the past in getting rid of mental tiredness is sleeping well but this is not always easy or possible for me to achieve when for example I have been stressed or have had things on my mind. I have also realized that it is not always possible for me to stop what is making me be tired as I can have no influence over it or can't change what is causing it and it will be impossible for me to be never tired but I can try to at least work on what I can influence that makes me tired to reduce how often and how much I am tired to benefit my speedcubing and my health in general. Other ways in which I have tried to reduce my tiredness that seem to have made a difference to me and which have been easy for me to implement and fit into my daily schedule are to eat and drink more healthily and to do some light jogging.

Looking on youtube to see how the fastest times for the speed cubes I am using were done can show what is possible and be motivating as long as I take into consideration that these are the best speedcubers out there who have very likely put a lot of years and extreme effort into achieving these records as well as likely having a lot of natural talent as well. It would be unrealistic for me to think I could ever break a world record but seeing how these speedcubers break world records can help me to see what they are doing in terms of such things as preparation before starting the attempt, turning technique, body posture, time management and sequences used to get these best times. I will have to try as many as possible of these different preparations before starting the attempt, turning techniques, body postures, time management strategies and sequences before I find the one for each that works best for me. If my times are getting close to some of the times I am seeing on youtube being performed in competitions then it might be worth considering that I enter a competition myself as the pressure of entering a competition could focus my mind even more and that combined with regular pretournament practice may really improve my times as well. Ideally, getting tips or lessons from a person who is an expert in speedcubing and/or has tournament experience would be the best way I can think of to improve my speedcubing ability as they would be able to see what I am doing and then tell and show me what I am doing wrong or what can be improved upon and the ways in which I can improve that I may not have thought of. Tailored speedcubing advice for a specific individual, in this case, me is better than using generic advice but finding this expert speedcuber to deliver this advice and then having these lessons in person could be tricky as they may live far away and because of my time restraints. Having speedcubing lessons in person would probably be the best scenario I think because it may be more helpful to me for the teacher to correct my mistakes or to show me how a speed cube manoeuvre is done by physically manoeuvring my hand(s) or the cube that I am using rather than just telling and showing me. The speedcubing teacher might also be able to get a superior view of what I am doing or that I can see better what they are doing when we are physically in the same space as each other which could lead to the teacher being able to help me more and that I am able to understand and learn more from the lesson. However, if I indeed can't find a teacher to give me speedcubing lessons in person then the next best option would be to do it over the web via video call/conferencing which should be much easier to arrange as I have seen there are websites dedicated to this that have a number of speedcubing teachers to choose from which means I should be able to get a lesson at a time that both the teacher and I are available and that is suitable for both parties. The websites which promote these speedcubing teachers services that I have seen at least have a description of what their lessons will specifically teach about speedcubing and what types of speed cubes they give lessons on. These speedcubing teachers can also be and a lot are rated on these websites with comments left from people who have had lessons from them as well so I can get a better and clearer idea of what to expect from a particular teacher and how successful a particular speedcubing teacher has been in teaching their pupils to see which teacher would match with me or work best for me and my particular level. Another option to getting one to one lessons from an expert speedcuber might be to post videos of what I am doing on Youtube and then ask for advice on ways to improve from high-level speedcubers as there is a comment section where people can reply but then I have to hope these get enough views that the videos are commented on and then that the replies give useful advice. A speedcubing course could also be another option to help me improve my times and level although this wouldn't be tailored towards me specifically and there wouldn't be feedback to me specifically either on how I am doing with the course it can potentially offer me advice and tips for someone of my level of ability from a speedcubing expert that I can work through at my own pace. These speedcubing courses can offer lessons on how to improve at many different types of speed cubes but might be tricky for me to get lessons for the more obscure shapes and sizes from what I have researched and these lessons can be in a slideshow format with words and pictures or in video format or even a combination of both. These speedcubing courses can be rated and commented on by those who have actually tried them but not all of these speedcubing courses will be rated or have been commented on due to the fact that not many people if any have tried them out yet especially if the course is brand new. The more people who rate and comment on a speed cube course the more helpful and insightful the rating and comments will be to help me decide whether this course is for me or not because the rating and comments will then give me a more accurate and truer reflection of what that course gave the average person who tried it and help me to eliminate and filter out the more extreme and unreliable ratings and comments. By reading the comments/reviews and the description of the speedcubing course along with noting the rating of the course and the stated level of ability it is aimed at I can make a decision on whether the lesson will be of value to me or help me to determine which of the speed cube courses is the superior choice. The person who created the course may also have been rated and commented on as could have the other courses that they have possibly created and all these comments and ratings can help me to better decide whether the speedcubing course I am interested in from them is worth doing or not and these other courses from them might be for other subjects that are not speedcubing but can still give an idea of what to expect from this person's work and the quality of it. Some speedcubing courses can be a lot longer than others in the time they take to complete and have a lot more content yet still be the same price however the quality of the content may be far superior for the course that has less content and takes less time to complete and therefore may in fact be the better choice. If I don't see a speedcubing course that I like or one that I think I will benefit from then I can check back in a few months to see what new speedcubing courses have been added as new courses are being released and made available all the time.

In summary, improving my best times can be approached in many different ways and could be just a simple change like using my speed cube at a different point of the day that is more conducive to me performing faster times or it could be memorising a whole new sequence of moves but the best approach, if I can't improve my fastest time with a speed cube but feel you can still improve it, I would say is for me to seek help from an expert/experienced speedcuber.

None of the approaches below guarantee I will improve my speedcubing skills or that I get faster times and some of these approaches can even risk damaging the speed cube that I am using them on.



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