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Tips for Improving as a Speedcuber

There are plenty and a variety of skills that I can work on and potentially improve upon in order to enhance my speedcubing ability whether it is speed, technique, memory or knowledge of how to solve a particular speed cube and there are plenty of approaches I could try to hopefully achieve these improvements. Trying to improve should keep me interested in a particular speed cube long after I initially solved it as I can always at the very least try to do it in a faster time. As there are so many different and varied speed cubes to have a go at and master then there should always be plenty in relation to speed cubes that I can have a go at and try to get better at. There are even different disciplines of speedcubing such as blindfolded or feet speedcubing to have a go at and try to improve at if I really want to test myself. Speed cubes are both a physical and mental test as I am aiming to perform the moves as quickly and precisely as I possibly can whilst remembering and putting into practice the solution at the same time. Some of these approaches to improving my speedcubing abilities about to be mentioned I have found to be more suitable or helpful than others and this suitability or helpfulness has depended on my level of ability at the time of trying the approach and how I like to learn or how I best learn but I have only found which ones work best or well by trying as many different approaches as possible.

Practice I have found is fundamental to improving at speedcubing and the most obvious way for me to get better as without practice any improvement tends to happen very slowly or be marginal if at all so this means I need to find time to practice regularly as it is the regularity of practice that will make it possible for me to have fast and significant improvements. Making speed cube practice a routine or habit for myself which could be daily or a few times a week in order to get in regular practice and sticking to it could be initially tricky in terms of remembering to do it or having the motivation but should get easier after a while when it becomes a habit and I see the improvements. Marking the time for practices down on a weekly schedule to help me remember to do them be it on my phone which can also alert me when it is time to practice or marking the practice times down on paper that I could stick somewhere where I will see it and come in regular contact with like the fridge could also work well. The more time I spend per practice session usually the better in terms of improving up until a certain point which for me is usually about 40 minutes and after that I tend to lose motivation or become mentally tired and therefore the quality of practice deteriorates. This point of losing motivation or becoming mentally tired can vary for me depending on if I was tired to begin with or whether I am hungry or have a lot on my mind and I try to find a practice time when I will be none of these but that is sometimes impossible and I just have to accept that the quality of practice won't always be the best every time due to this. Overtraining could be an issue for me and something that I need to be wary of which could lead to burnout and becoming demotivated or possibly I might even injure myself so a balance needs to be struck between me getting enough practice in and not overdoing it. An hour could be a reasonable upper time limit and cut off point to set per practice session for me with no more than two sessions per day to try to avoid overtraining but I can always adapt this depending on what I am practising or have practised previously as some speed cubes and speedcubing skills I have found to be more demanding when practising them than others in terms of the physical and mental stress they place on me. Speed cubes should be quite easy to find time for and fit into my schedule as I can take one or multiple with me on my daily travels as most that I own will fit easily in a rucksack without taking up much room or weighing heavily. Therefore I could take and practice with one or more of my speed cubes during my lunch break at work or on the commute to and from work if I go by bus or train or somebody is driving me to work which could have the added benefit of making these periods more fun and productive than they would otherwise be. Sometimes I just don't have time after or before work for a puzzle therefore exploiting breaks at work or during the commute to and from work might be the only time I get when I am not busy or mentally exhausted. Quality of practice is key and I have found this to be more important than time spent and I have done this by setting goals beforehand which could be to do a move or a series of movements in a quicker time or memorise a sequence of moves and this should help me to keep the practice focused by setting an achievable target for my ability. I have found if I am just not motivated to do practice or am very mentally tired then it is better to just reschedule practice for another time when I am alert and motivated so that I will benefit from the practice and that I don't become demotivated to improve at speedcubing as a result of practising when not in the right frame of mind. I know if I don't regularly practice then my skills can decline or I can forget how I solve some of the speed cubes so it is important to practice with, as often as I can, all the speed cubes I currently possess to maintain and improve upon my abilities and know-how with all of them.

Learning the moves required to solve a specific speed cube, which depending on the speed cube will take me longer for some than others, is essential to speedcubing and there are many websites and books that I can use that are dedicated to showing how to solve a lot of the various speed cubes out there. The websites and books I have seen and used often come with clear detailed instructions and diagrams showing the specific moves I will have to do to solve it and can even sometimes tell me what is possible in terms of fastest times I can reach and the fewest amount of moves that particular speed cube can be done in. The instructions I have seen and used have been step by step or turn by turn so I can go through them at my own pace and this helps me also with memorizing these sequences which I will have to do in order to solve it quickly. These instructions can often use terminology and words that are very specific to speedcubing such as names of parts of a speed cube or a type of manoeuvre so speedcubing has sort of its own language and when I was a newcomer to speedcubing I found this a bit confusing and overwhelming at first. These speedcubing words and terminology though if not explained in the instructions that used them I have found could easily be looked up through a search engine and just took a bit of time to remember and get used to. There is usually more than one way to solve a particular speed cube and therefore I have found that there are different instructions for the same speed cube that differ in the method they give and explain to solve it or that an instruction for a particular speed cube will show how to solve a speed cube using the various different methods for it. Some of these methods I have found to be easier to memorize than others and some I found to be faster or easier to perform than others so I have learned to try all the methods for a particular speed cube that I can find to find the one that will work best for me which is ultimately the one that produces the fastest time.

Watching other speedcubers is another way for me to learn and improve by seeing what is possible in terms of the times achieved and the various techniques that they use. Youtube is a great place to see speedcubers as there are so many videos of them using different types of speedcubes that there should be plenty of videos that are useful and informative for what I am doing with a particular speed cube(s). These videos can be a tutorial for a specific speed cube in which the person will show me how to solve it and tips for how to do it in a fast or faster time some of which I may never have thought of myself or come across before. There are videos in which a speedcuber gives an opinion on what they believe to be the fastest or best brand for a particular speed cube and if I am not using that brand then switching to it could help me reduce my time further. There are videos of people who have broken world records and are world champions so watching those who have mastered speed cubes is going to be potentially very insightful and hopefully motivating to watch and these world record breakers and champions even sometimes have some tips to share as well. With Youtube, I can always slow down the video so that I can take in everything they are showing and that I don't miss anything as they will often be showing manoeuvres in the videos that they are doing in rapid fashion. Youtube offers the possibility to ask questions in the comments on any queries I have that could be potentially answered by the maker of the video or other commenters and somebody may even have already asked the question in the comments and I can simply scroll through them to see if it is there and has been answered. I could upload a video to youtube myself of me solving a speed cube I want to improve at and ask for advice by letting people leave comments in the comment section for ways in which I could improve and doing this may help me to reach a large audience and reach specifically other speedcubers who could potentially give really great advice.

Finding a high level and experienced speedcuber to help and teach me would probably be the best way for me to improve but might be tricky to find one in my area who could do it face to face in person as there may not be such a person where I live. However, with the internet and in particular social media, it has become much easier to find and connect with people who share the same interests even when they are obscure or pretty niche so using the internet and asking around locally in person may lead to me finding a speedcuber nearby who could teach me. If I can't find a speedcuber locally to teach me I could broaden my search via the web geographically from local to nationwide or worldwide and try to find a speed cube teacher who could teach me online via webcam or video link and I will likely have more success finding somebody for this task by broadening the search geographically and likely have a lot of potential teachers to choose from by doing this. Having an expert speedcuber teach me either in the same physical place and in person or through a video call or webcam can give me immediate feedback in real-time and can closely look at what I am doing in order to correct mistakes and give personalised tips for improvement. A teacher might also be able to tell/teach me things I don't know or would not have thought of doing for my particular situation in order to improve and this is where the real value of a teacher could show itself compared to other approaches to improving. A teacher will be able to set realistic goals for me but also help me to achieve these goals in the easiest way possible but how easy it will be to achieve any goal set by the teacher will depend also on my natural ability as well as the effort I put in. The teacher will hopefully have experience of many different types of speed cubes as I have many different types that I would want to improve at and the teacher might be then also able to recommend a speed cube for me to try that I don't have that will help me improve or that will be a good next challenge for me to attempt.

I could take a course online for speedcubing but these courses are often targeted at beginners and these beginner type courses would not be that useful if at all to somebody such as myself who is no longer a novice and who already knows the fundamentals. However, taking a beginner course could be a good idea if it is an introduction to a particular speed cube that I have not tried yet and which would give me the fundamentals for that particular speed cube but a lot of the courses I have seen are mostly for the Rubik's cube and very few for other shapes. There are courses however being added all the time so at the moment there may be a limited amount of courses that I can take but in the future, if they prove popular there could be many more and therefore more of a probability that there will be one that will be suitable for me and what I am looking for. Some courses do though teach how to fully master a particular speed cube that are for intermediate or advanced level speedcubers but there are also some for beginners as well. Some speed cube courses do also teach how to do many different speed cube shapes and/or teach how do the same speed cube shape but with a different number of pieces. Courses will usually have been taken by others and some of them will have rated and left comments on what they thought of the course and this can help me decide if it is worthwhile taking up that course and also to compare it with other speed cube courses that are available. A course doesn't always cost money and some can be free and it is not always the case that the course that costs money is better than the one that is available for free and also a free course or trial if that is offered allows me to try a course at no expense and see if this format of learning is right for me. The different courses will be taught by different people who will teach in different ways and one method/way of teaching could be more beneficial or helpful than another so it will be worth reading the description of the course carefully to see how the course will be taught and done before going ahead with it. Speed cube courses do in general seem short in length in terms of the time they take to complete but does vary and in the description of the course it will usually show the time it will take to complete the course but this will obviously differ from person to person according to their ability.

Once I have got the most out of a certain speed cube and mastered it then there will often be but not always a speed cube that is the same shape but the next level up in difficulty that I can test myself against and try to improve my speedcubing skills further with. For example, if I want the next level up in difficulty from a 3x3 Rubiks cube then it would be the 4x4 cube which will be a very similiar challenge but with more individual pieces and layers to contend with and then the next level up in difficulty from the 4x4 cube would be the 5x5 cube and so on. The idea behind doing this is to take what I have learnt from completing one speed cube and then take it and apply it to the next speed cube of the same shape that is more challenging but basically the same challenge and as mentioned with the example previously given there is a natural successor to the 3x3 Rubiks cube which is the 4x4 cube but with some speed cubes this will not be the case as they will be completely unique shapes that are a unique challenge within themselves and there is no speed cube of the same shape but more difficult to move up to and try such as the 3x3x3 curved trihedron (the MZStech version of this is reviewed here). It is important to find and use a speed cube that matches my current level of ability and this may mean starting with the simplest form of that shape of speed cube so that I can begin from the easiest/easy level and then work my way up and build my level and confidence as I go along. Starting with too difficult a speed cube I have found can be very discouraging and sometimes too tough to solve which will not help me to improve at any great rate if at all. Speed cubes can get very large in size and in terms of the number of moveable pieces that they contain and therefore can get extremely difficult and complex to complete for example a Rubik's cube that actually functions properly has been created that is 33x33x33. This 33x33x33 Rubik's cube has 6153 parts that can be manipulated and I would need a table to lay it on in order to operate it due to its huge size and fairly heavy weight. This particular cube indicates just how many speed cubes there are out there to master as it shows the extremes in terms of size and number of moveable pieces that exist with just this one shape and this increasing of size and number of moveable pieces is repeated with many other speed cube shapes like the cylinder and the dodecahedron but they just don't go to as of yet to the extreme in size and number of pieces that the cube does which as mentioned can get to 33x33x33.

Competition could be a great way to test my skills, in what can be a very pressurized environment, against the skills of other keen speedcubers whilst at the same being an opportunity to compare and learn from them. Competiton should also help to keep me very focused in practice, which is the ideal mindset for improvement, whilst training for the event because once committed to it I am going to want to do myself justice at the event and not embarrass myself there. Finding competitions to go to in person either as a competitor or even just as a spectator if I don't feel confident enough or good enough yet to enter as a competitor is fairly straightforward as I have found online plenty of competitions advertised in the UK where I am from although all of them require a fair amount of travelling to get to even the nearest event geographically to me. Competing or watching a speedcubing competition online is another option which eliminates the travelling issue as I can just compete or watch from the comfort of my own home and thus making it more practical and convenient to participate in. If I want an idea of what speedcubing competitions are like then there are videos on youtube I can look at that will show me what happens at these events and what the standard will be like and there are also blogs and articles online to read of what I can expect at a speedcubing event either in general or a particular event/competition. At an international or world championship speedcubing competition the standard of the speedcubers will certainly be a lot higher than if it was a local event as a local competition will mostly have people from that particular region of a country whereas an international event will have competitors from different countries competing some of whom will be professional. There are also national speedcubing competitions as well that have people from all over that particular country attending and as a beginner I will have to find a competition that either I am capable of qualifying for or that is beginner-friendly and allows anybody of any level to compete and that is basically more focussed on fun and learning what competition is about than competing. It is important that I am competing and measuring myself with other beginners who are at the same or similiar level as me and not advanced or professional speedcubers as to not become discouraged or demand too much from myself that I am not capable of as of yet. What is daunting and would put me off entering a competition would be the possibility of embarrassing myself through poor performance or mistakes in the presence of other speedcubers, referees and spectators. However, I would imagine these concerns would disappear once I have taken part and performed adequately and realised these worries were unfounded but until I have successfully taken part these concerns will remain as there is no way to pratice at home in a fully replicated competition environment with all the people and noise that entails. I can and it is important to practice exactly how I am going to solve a speed cube as I will in the competition I am entering that means practising with a speed cube timer which is a board with touch-sensitive pads to trigger the timer. The scrambled speed cube to be solved will be covered and hidden from me in competition before I try to solve it so I should also replicate this in practice and I could get somebody to do this for me and then I will have 15 seconds to examine the cube without manipulating the pieces of it after I have removed the cover which will reveal the configuration of the speed cube that I will have to solve. I will need to replicate and practice this inspection period of the speed cube as this is a crucial period in which I must quickly work out how I will approach solving the speed cube as the wrong approach will lead to a slower time. Once inspected and I have the approach in my mind that I will use I can then start the speed cube timer and after doing this I can and am allowed to manipulate the speed cube and solve it. As soon as I have solved the speed cube I need to quickly as possible let go of the speed cube and then press the speed cube timer which will stop the timer and give me my final time. Fractions of a second matter in speedcubing so practising all these different stages will be necessary in order to get a good time as all these stages contribute to the final time that I will achieve. It is very important to check what the cost to enter the tournament is, if there is one, and what is the deadline for registering to enter for the competition is and also if there are any entry requirements in terms of what times I need to make in order to qualify for the main competitions. I need to obtain and check the rules carefully before entering a competition so I don't get disqualified as rules can differ for different speedcubing tournaments and I also need to know what equipment I need to bring and what will be provided by the tournament whereas an online competition I will clearly have to have all the equipment myself. If I can't find a competition suitable for me to enter or attend then it might be an idea to organise one myself and I have seen other speedcubers online who have shared their advice and experience of doing this that could help me to do the same as well.

In conclusion, there are a multitude of ways to potentially improve my speedcubing skills or my level for a particular speed cube but the most important aspect of the approach to improving for me is to keep it fun because if it is fun then I will stick at it which gives me the best chance of improving and achieving a high level.



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