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Extracurriculars for crosstraining in speedcubing (and other training ideas)?

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Hey everyone,

Yep. I'm posting another one of those threads about brain stuff. Why? Because I'm WAY too interested for my own good. (I am going to do my best to become a neurologist one day. That would be so freakin' awesome.)

So, I think Chris Hardwick (or maybe it was someone else?) mentioned this in a thread titled "Hitting Plateaus: something something something", and I thought it'd be good to make a separate thread on this since I didn't think it would get as much focus if I just tried to bump a thread that's been dead for about 3 months.

But I was just wondering, is there seriously anything we can do to make ourselves better at cubing outside of cubing? Are there any other ways to improve our neural pathways so that we are get better at cubing faster, without even really intending to improve our learning curve through brute force practice? Well, yes, obviously there are ways to do that, but the question is, can we pinpoint them?

Why do I want to find these so badly? Because I want to get better and because I love my speedcubing community and wish to help others get better, too... even if it technically means more competition for me. (I'm not that good, so it can't hurt my ranking much! I'm really more interested in the brain than the cube anyway.)

So, basically, what I'd like you guys to do is just write a reply about your extracurriculars. No need to go into detail or speculation about how it may help with crosstraining or whatever, unless you want to. (I certainly won't stop you.)

FOR THE ADMINS: Sorry if I duplicated a thread, but whenever i searched for crosstraining or cross training as two separate words, it came up as... well... cross training... as in actually training the first step of CFOP. Maybe I should have searched something else? You can take this down if you want, but I think it might have some use, though!

PLEASE STOP READING HERE IF YOU'RE NOT IN THE MOOD FOR READING A BUNCH OF EXTRA STUFF THAT IS NOT NECESSARY TO UNDERSTAND THE POINT OF THE THREAD. (I'd rather not have people complain about how long this thread is and how much I've rambled. If you don't want to read it all, then don't.)
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Here's some of my own ideas for training and crosstraining:

Training Idea #1: Overload your brain with too much visual information.
What I mean by this is to simply watch things happen at a faster pace than they normally happen. This idea comes from two places: 1) table tennis and 2) using the EyeQ program.

In the EyeQ program (which is a a speedreading program), they force you to read things at a faster pace, even though you won't pick up much information, and then they tell you once you've at least doubled your beginning reading speed (usually when you get to around 1000wpm), that's a good time to actually try to comprehend what you're seeing. It's actually worked wonders for me. My reading has gotten oodles than where it started. It's still not too great yet in my opinion, but that's mainly because I often forget to do the program. They also do some other things, like expanding your field of vision, but yeah. Improving peripheral vision can't hurt your look-ahead. I remember when I was getting to sub-15. I realized how my peripheral vision was starting to hold me back because I'd look at one piece, focus on that one piece, and then once it was in its proper slot, I had not seen any other pieces because I had not picked up the information either because I didn't look for new pieces or my brain didn't automatically pick up the location of another piece. But how would you train peripheral vision to improve speedcubing? Maybe we can answer that!

I'm a huge fan of table tennis. I play table tennis basically whenever I'm not speedcubing. In table tennis, a lot of the world class players do something called "multiball training", where a feeder feeds the balls to the player at some speed, and they need to respond as quickly and effectively as they possibly can. Sometimes, they'll go at a faster speed than you can handle, but this is on purpose, merely to get your brain working faster. Table tennis is such a fast sport, especially at high levels. You can't afford to have a slow reaction time. Ma Long, the best player in the world, does multiball training at about twice the actual speed of a normal rally. He is easily the fastest table tennis player out there. Or at least I've never seen anyone move like him. It's pretty incredible to watch as he kills every shot with such perfect footwork and such great form and still displays so much finesse.

Now, the question is, how can you apply this to speedcubing? Well, you could just never do slow solving, though slow-solving DEFINITELY has its advantages. How do you know what to do fast-mo if you can't do it slow-mo? But see, there's the thing: slow-mo and fast-mo solving can be for two different purposes. Slow-mo should be for defining your moves (finger tricks, what you do for certain situations, etc.) and for relaxed cubing, (which is also good for your brain, I think), while fast-mo is for the sole purpose of forcing your eyes to keep up. Now, the problem with that is that your hands can't magically keep solving the cube for you while you teach your eyes to keep up. Eyes have to come first, so that doesn't really work. I can't really think of a way this could work. The only way I could think of is if cubers started posting videos where you get a "Cuber's eye view" of the cube. That way, you can practice looking at the cube at a faster pace than you can actually keep up with while watching the cuber solve it signficantly faster than you can. It's an interesting idea, but would anyone be willing to actually do that? Probably not. If someone is willing to help me test the idea, that would be great. I would need a test subject (preferably just under 20 seconds and hoping to improve look-ahead) and maybe someone who's better at cubing than me (preferably around sub-10 average, whose skill can provide a range of different speeds) and has a High Definition Camera. I love taking data and writing up labs when I'm interested in the subject. I think it's fun, especially if I'm learning more about the brain, so please, feel free to tell me if you'd like to participate in such a mini-study. I'd appreciate the help.

On another note, I've wondered if the speedy eye-tracking needed for table tennis (especially in multiball training) could be a sort of cross-training for cubing. I realize that there are times when I literally just don't look at the ball, and there are times I do the same thing in cubing. I'll literally just stop tracking things. My brain knows where the ball is, and I clearly acknowledge it, but I'll end up missing. In cubing, well, when I stop tracking, I stop moving, lol.... Maybe those are related pitfalls?


Crosstraining Idea #1: Play a plethora of different videogames.

Of course I'm serious about this one. Studies show that when a child is growing up, if they're playing a lot of videogames, they generally turn out smarter than they're counterparts who didn't play as many videogames. This is because they're brain is learning to do a surprisingly large amount of things in a videogame. For example, in COD4, WoW, Starcraft, or even Tetris (nakaji1083 FTW). There tends to be a lot of multitasking, srategizing, and amazing fine motor skill precision involved in videogames these days. That can't be bad for your brain's neural pathways.

Now, this idea can be more generalized: Always be learning something new outside of cubing. Doesn't really matter what it is. Just make sure it's not specifically related to cubing. Or maybe even simply using something outside your regular method could help, too.

But, honestly, that's a little too general, as that's literally the main point of this thread: What can we learn outside of speedcubing to improve our speedcubing? I know we're not neuroscientists, and I know these will be no more than guesses and speculations on how we can improve speedcubing, but hey, at least we'll learn something about ourselves. We'll learn what works and what doesn't work. Isn't that what we need to get better?


Crosstraining Idea #2: Use your imagination.

When I say imagination, I mean visual imagination. I don't know if this would actually work, but what if you could, instead of doing an actual solve, imagine yourself doing a solve? That seems a bit much, so maybe just an algorithm, or maybe section it up, like when people practice putting in two F2Ls without looking. I know some people use this for memorizing algorithms. (I think Kirjava mentioned something like that in another thread... or he agreed with someone else who mentioned it.... He or this other person said he memorized like 50 algorithms in a day, LIKE A BAWSS.)

I think visual imagination would be most useful for learning more algorithms in a shorter amount of time. I know other people have been successful with the method.

I think one of the keys to using it would be: DON'T RESTRICT YOUR IMAGINATION. Use your imagination for other things. Like schoolwork. I used it all the time for Chinese class. We often have to memorize about 60-100 characters at a time. For my final, I successfully memorized a good 60+ words in about 1-2 hours without writing them, which is a lot faster than it would take if I wrote them all out several times, and I aced my final as well. All I did was imagine myself writing them, and then after every few words, I tested myself by actually writing them, and I was amazed at how easy it was to recall them.

Now, for me, the most important part of using my imagination effectively to learn is force myself to take notice of my other senses. When I use my imagination to memorize characters, I make sure I'm completely in the moment of writing them. I try to imagine myself holding the pencil, I feel the pencil in my hand, I take note of the texture, and I know exactly what it looks and feels like because I always use Papermate mechanical pencils (the yellow ones with the spin tops). I try to make sure it feels like there's an actual pencil in my hand, but I don't go through the motions IRL too. I want my imagination to take full control of the situation. Sometimes I'll even try to do it in an imaginary room different from the one I'm in in IRL and take notice of the smell of the place. So then I finally go to write the character in my mind on my imaginary piece of paper, which I also try to feel. I feel the paper against my hand, the motions of the pencil writing the character, the changes in pressure from my pencil against my fingers when I'm actually writing it. I go through writing it a few times, then I finally try to simply imagine the character as a whole. This part is strictly visual memory of course, as I am skipping the imaginary writing process. That part is to force myself to come up with an instant picture as soon as I try to write a character. The other stuff is mainly for reinforcement. If my visual memory doesn't remember it, maybe my kinetic (albeit imaginary) memory will remember it. (This whole process actually goes a pretty fast; otherwise it wouldn't take only 1-2 hours to memorize 60+ Chinese characters. But I did start a bit slower.) Usually, when I go to take my tests, even though sometimes I've never actually written some of the characters IRL, I just kind of know them off the top of my head.

Lastly, invoke emotion or opinion or feelings when memorizing things. What's your opinion on the character/algorithm/whatever you're memorizing? Is it weird? Is it cool? How does it feel to you? Does it feel similar to something else? Does it remind you of something? Does it give off some sort of ambience to you or something like that? If you can associate a ton of things with something, you're bound to memorize it better.

My Training Idea #2: Travel-cubing.

This one's pretty straightforward. Travel when you cube.

This is similar to the aforementioned strategy. This is meant mainly for memorizing algorithms. If you're trying to memorize a lot of things, go somewhere while you're doing it. Take a walk around the block. Just do something, but don't stay in one place and just memorize the character. This is purely because your brain will actually do things with wherever you go without your intention. Here's a simple example of this: 闯祸。I know this word in Chinese because I specifically remember how I felt about the character, and I also remember where I was when I learned the character. I was about to walk into the elevator of my dorm so I could go to a dining hall for dinner. That's what I remember every time I write that character now. It's basically just another thing you can associate with what you need to memorize.


So... yeah, your replies will be great appreciated. Thanks a lot everybody!
 
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Moops

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Interesting post! I would like to see more of this. =]

One thing I've been doing lately is just memorizing odd things on the fly like shopping lists and those road signs on highways with towns and the distance to each one.

I figured if I just practice memorization, generally, I would get better at my BLD memo :p
 

Ezy Ryder

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I could be the "test subject". I've got a camera recording at 480p and I already did some videos like that. Now I average about 11-12 seconds with occasional Sub-10 or even Sub-9 singles.
 
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I could be the "test subject". I've got a camera recording at 480p and I already did some videos like that. Now I average about 11-12 seconds with occasional Sub-10 or even Sub-9 singles.

Well, you wouldn't be the "test subject" in this case; you'd be more like the "apparatus". That still leaves a test subject to be found. But thanks! I'd be glad to use you as the apparatus! Could you do me a favor and PM me as a reminder?

If anyone is willing to be a test subject, the option is still open!

In the meantime, I thought of another idea. What if you simply sped up your own videos and watched those when you get to a speed where it's hard to find people better than you (i.e. world-class speed, like sub-9 or sub-8 average)? Is it even possible to push those boundaries?

EDIT: I shouldn't even ask that question. Of course it's possible to push boundaries. Cubers and other people in other sports and extracurriculars and hobbies have done it before. Who says we can't do it again?
 

4EverCuber

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I'm not really a great speedcuber averaging in the mid 20's, but I also aspire to become better. Having said that I have wondered about this myself.

Coming from an asian background, I played a lot of table tennis growing up. Chess was another hobby of mine for the longest time. Although I stopped playing table tennis awhile ago, chess and sudoku (basically games that involve thinking) take up the most of my time when not cubing.

Not sure if this is very helpful but I hope your little study is fruitful.
 
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! Thanks! I find this incredibly useful!

You're quite welcome! I appreciate the support!

BTW, whatever you typed at the end and beginning of your reply showed up as mere boxes...

wow!
a very nice thread. :D

about the crosstraining #2. Do you think speedBLD would be a good training for visual imagination?

Thanks a lot! I appreciate the support!

SpeedBLD? Well, it's an idea, but I feel like the whole process would just slow you down. But a different idea might be to do a specific solve a few times IRL, then try to imagine yourself doing the same solve in your mind, but executing everything perfectly. Make sure you get a feel for how the cube feels in your imagination. I think through that, you would not only naturally improve your turning accuracy, but also GREATLY improve your ability to pinpoint mistakes in your cubing.

Interesting post! I would like to see more of this. =]

One thing I've been doing lately is just memorizing odd things on the fly like shopping lists and those road signs on highways with towns and the distance to each one.

I figured if I just practice memorization, generally, I would get better at my BLD memo :p

I like the way you think!! If you think it'll help, I say go with it!

I haven't tried it myself, but I'd recommend using Roman Rooms to memorize things you already practice memorizing (like for regular BLD cubing, or you could practice memorizing something like a deck of cards), and then you could use your imagination (as I stated in crosstraining idea #2) to memorize other things on the fly. Like for grocery lists, you can sort of combine the two. Imagine yourself going to the grocery store and buying all those things IN THAT SPECIFIC ORDER. Feel the bag bread as you pick it up. What does it feel like? Hear the box of spaghetti as you pick it up. What does it sound like? Now, if you can practice speeding that whole process up, you might be surprised at what you can do!
 
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I'm not really a great speedcuber averaging in the mid 20's, but I also aspire to become better. Having said that I have wondered about this myself.

Coming from an asian background, I played a lot of table tennis growing up. Chess was another hobby of mine for the longest time. Although I stopped playing table tennis awhile ago, chess and sudoku (basically games that involve thinking) take up the most of my time when not cubing.

Not sure if this is very helpful but I hope your little study is fruitful.

Thanks for your support!

Playing sudoku could help. Maybe if you played three different ways, it could help: 1) for speeding up your brain by playing for speed using pencil marks, or 2) for improving the power of your imagination by using no pencil marks, and when you would normally use pencil marks, try making mental notes instead. For the second one, you'll want to start easy of course, and then you can up the difficulty when you think you're ready to add some more soldification to your visual imagination. More variation in how you do things would be the key. Always seek to do something the hard way.

I also use abacus and flash anzan training to improve my visual imagination. I won't go into depth about that here, but I recommend you take a look. It's actually pretty fun, and it's also fun to show-off your amazing arithmetic abilities to friends (which does make you look like a show-off, but who cares?).

Chess might help, but it's more of a strategy game, which I don't think would be quite as useful in cubing, but who am I to say it won't work? I hear chess is really useful for playing table tennis though. But maybe you should try playing blindfold chess!! Now THAT would really be a brain buster! That's where you play a game of chess with somebody without the chessboard. You just say your moves.
 

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I'd be the test subject.
I average around 18, but I have way to many times sup20 due to my look-ahead, so naturally, I'd like to improve it. However, I don't know full OLL yet (I think I know a little more than half the cases).
 
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I'd be the test subject.
I average around 18, but I have way to many times sup20 due to my look-ahead, so naturally, I'd like to improve it. However, I don't know full OLL yet (I think I know a little more than half the cases).

Great! Thanks! PM me as a reminder so I don't forget!

BTW, could I ask you to learn full OLL this weekend. Try out the method I outlined in Crosstraining method #2. That might help. I've never tried it myself for learning algorithms, but it would be nice to see how fast you can memorize the rest of the algorithms.

You have to make sure that you just kind of sit down and learn them all in one go. Try to go for one algorithm per 2-3 minutes, or you can tweak the time frame to your needs. That should give you plenty of time to get into the imaginary "moment" of performing the algorithm while allowing you to still memorize all the algorithms within about an hour or so.

Memorize maybe 15 at a time, then go for performing them just by looking at the picture of the OLL case on the computer screen or piece of paper or wherever you have the algorithms. Once you know you've got those down, go to the next ones.
 

TheChriskage

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Great! Thanks! PM me as a reminder so I don't forget!

BTW, could I ask you to learn full OLL this weekend. Try out the method I outlined in Crosstraining method #2. That might help. I've never tried it myself for learning algorithms, but it would be nice to see how fast you can memorize the rest of the algorithms.

You have to make sure that you just kind of sit down and learn them all in one go. Try to go for one algorithm per 2-3 minutes, or you can tweak the time frame to your needs. That should give you plenty of time to get into the imaginary "moment" of performing the algorithm while allowing you to still memorize all the algorithms within about an hour or so.

Memorize maybe 15 at a time, then go for performing them just by looking at the picture of the OLL case on the computer screen or piece of paper or wherever you have the algorithms. Once you know you've got those down, go to the next ones.

Well, I'll give it a go.
It might be smart, if the apparatus sent me his OLL algs?
 

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Very cool list! I have a feeling this is the kind of thread that shouldn't just be skimmed through or read through once. I will try to come back to this and try different things you suggest.

As to cross training, I have tried something you mention in Method #2 (Play a plethora of different video games). I don't game at all really, but I am trying to "Always be learning something new outside of cubing" at least to some extent. In the past 6 months I have found that modeling with clay is a very effective cross training method for blindfolded memorization for me. Some of the techniques used in sculpting apply very well to pacing during the memorization of a blindfolded solve, at least for me.

One thing I've found that sculpting is also helping me with, is just dealing with being a total noob at something. My friend Eric, who is the one teaching me how to sculpt, is constantly pushing me to sculpt shapes that are outside of my comfort zone (that I'm not quite sure how to, or ready to sculpt yet). This is very useful for my cubing because it gets me used to the idea that the feeling "being outside my comfort zone" is normal, and a good thing. This helps to keep me out of the dreaded "OK Plateau" in my cubing by making me always want to try something new, or outside my comfort zone.

Just some ideas, but I will try to post about things as they either work for me (or not) while cross training using sculpting.

P.S. My sculpting is getting slowly better, but it still not very good :) So far I made an igloo, and a polar bear (the igloo is not bad, but the polar bear looks like an amorphous blob of clay with legs and sort of a head shaped blob where a head should be :p ) Next up I'm working on a turtle :)
 
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Very cool list! I have a feeling this is the kind of thread that shouldn't just be skimmed through or read through once. I will try to come back to this and try different things you suggest.

As to cross training, I have tried something you mention in Method #2 (Play a plethora of different video games). I don't game at all really, but I am trying to "Always be learning something new outside of cubing" at least to some extent. In the past 6 months I have found that modeling with clay is a very effective cross training method for blindfolded memorization for me. Some of the techniques used in sculpting apply very well to pacing during the memorization of a blindfolded solve, at least for me.

One thing I've found that sculpting is also helping me with, is just dealing with being a total noob at something. My friend Eric, who is the one teaching me how to sculpt, is constantly pushing me to sculpt shapes that are outside of my comfort zone (that I'm not quite sure how to, or ready to sculpt yet). This is very useful for my cubing because it gets me used to the idea that the feeling "being outside my comfort zone" is normal, and a good thing. This helps to keep me out of the dreaded "OK Plateau" in my cubing by making me always want to try something new, or outside my comfort zone.

Just some ideas, but I will try to post about things as they either work for me (or not) while cross training using sculpting.

P.S. My sculpting is getting slowly better, but it still not very good :) So far I made an igloo, and a polar bear (the igloo is not bad, but the polar bear looks like an amorphous blob of clay with legs and sort of a head shaped blob where a head should be :p ) Next up I'm working on a turtle :)

Chris Hardwick, I am so honored to have you post on my thread. Your input is very greatly appreciated.

Speaking of sculpting, I'm thinking of learning how to draw. I should see if that affects my cubing! Maybe learning both 3D and 2D visualization through sculpting and drawing, respectively, would really give the brain a real workout. Maybe you should learn how to draw, too, and see if it does anything.

EDIT: Oh, and also, I'm taking massage classes, and it turns out, I'm REALLY good at it too. I'm gonna be taking massage classes all through college if I can. That might help too. There's actually a lot of imagination that goes into it. In a class setting, you and your partner massage each other, but in a real setting, you have a client (Okay, I know this sounds really suggestive, and you're probably feeling really awkward right now, but I'm totally serious about this, so just bear with me here.), and you have to imagine what it feels like to receive the massage you're giving. Of course, you'll never be perfect because different people like different pressures, etc., which is why you need to ask the client whether you're applying sufficient/insufficient pressure in the correct areas. I personally think it's so much fun to do; it has actually become another hobby now. I don't really care for getting them as much as giving them. I enjoy all the intricacies of the human body, working with the anatomy of people with different body types, finding the land marks and learning where everything is, and then taking my time and working all the cricks and cracks out of the area... Snap, the way I'm talking, I'd be such a good doctor.

Now, the receiver of the massage can actually do a similar thing. I did this with a partner during class and ended up falling asleep because it takes so much focus, and believe it or not, it was while I was getting my face massaged. (How do you even fall asleep to somebody touching your face?) What you can do is try to feel exactly what your partner is doing. You're trying to imagine what they feel like when they give you a massage. What do their hands feel like, judging by how much pressure they're applying and what technique they're using and even what stance they're in. It's pretty fun.

But yeah, in short, I thought maybe the imagination portion of massage would really help.

Oh goodness, you could get so many that's what she said jokes out of what I just said.... But I swear, I'm not a pervert. I'm being totally serious here.
 
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