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Help for cubers who want to beat sub-x (CFOP) **Giveaway Results**

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Zubin Park

May 27, 2020
Help has arrived!
I've seen a lot of "Help, I'm sub-x and I wanna go to sub-x, how do I do that?" I had a lot of questions regarding this question, especially for sub-30 and sub-20. I've seen many repetitive answers, such as "good cross", "lookahead in F2L", or "Full PLL". However, most cubers don't have a good grasp of these concepts, and blindly go into solving, using an alg set they don't understand. In advance, this is for CFOP solvers, as I'm a CFOP solver myself (sorry roux, petrus, etc). In this guide, I will provide detailed tips, as well as clear up some misconceptions when it comes to lookahead and alg subsets, just to name a few. The “you should” section highlights what you should be doing/have done before attempting to reach the goal listed.
The following guides are part of the sub-x series, which will outline tips to reach your goal, whether it be sub-1 min, or sub-10.
Just starting out: If you are just starting to cube, maybe with an old Rubik brand you've found in the house, or with a cheap budget cube, it is important NOT to rush into algorithms and such without knowing what it is designed to do. There are key tips that will help you start your journey as a cuber! (not in any particular order) Honestly, if you can solve a cube, you're 1000 times better than someone who can't solve a cube. Of course, there are other tips, but I'm highlighting 3 that I wish I'd learned early on.
You should
  • Have any cube
  • Be motivated to solve your first cube!

1. Solve with all colors for cross, not just white. By doing this, you will have a better understanding of color patterns, and pave the path for you to become Color Neutral (solving on all sides). This is not a priority, as this can be developed later. However, it will benefit you in the long run, as it becomes hard to be CN when you get faster and faster.
2. Get yourself a "good" cube. Rubik brand cubes are horrible in relation to other budget cubes, and if you have been using a Rubik brand, switching to a speedcube will drastically improve your times. Some good budget cubes include the YuXin Little Magic M, the MFJS RS3M 2020, and the MFJS Meilong M (be aware that I don't know the best budget cube, although all of them are good for their price).
3. Learn cube notation. Some are fairly simple, such as R= right, and D= down, but some can be a little tricky. Learn what each move is; this will help when scrambling your cube using an official scramble, and learning algorithms.
4. Find a good tutorial. You should learn from a beginner friendly tutorial. Some good examples are Jperm, a cubing youtuber, and Cubeskills, a cubing website. From there you will need other guides and tutorials for more advanced things such as full PLL, OLL, intuitive/algorithmic F2L, and much more. For now, find a guide, whether it be a video, or a typed out guide, and stick to it. Now is not the time to be picky about a particular guide, as all of the guides teach the exact same thing.
5. Don't worry about being fast. Just make sure you learn how to solve the cube correctly.

Goal: Sub 1 min: If you are reading this part of my guide, you probably can solve the cube, but are unsure how to get faster, and if you can get faster. This is a stage that takes no longer than a couple days to a week, if you really work with your cube and learn what the cube can and cannot do.
You should
  • Be learning the beginners method, or even dabbling in CFOP.
  • Able to read cube notation.
  • Solve the cube fairly comfortably

1. Solve, solve, solve. Probably the most important tip at this stage is to continue to solve to be more familiar with your cube, and adapt to its strengths, whether it be good grip, great corner cutting, or strong/weak magnets, as well as adapt to its flaws, may it be weak corner cutting, poor m-slices, or undesirable magnet strength. Your times will get better just from repeatedly solving, if you are in the x-minute range.
2. Learn finger tricks. At this stage, you should learn some good finger tricks. Watch a Youtube video by Jperm, who outlines both beginner and advanced finger tricks. Some include double U face flicks and double M slice flicks. This is so important because for algs, some turns require a different technique to be used.
3. If you are ambitious, learn intuitive F2L. Intuitive F2L is a stepping stone, and often useful, when solving the first 2 layers of the cube. In the beginner’s method, you would put in the corners first, then put the edges into its slot. With F2L, you pair the corner and edge in the top layer, and then put them in the correct slot at the same time. I learned this again from jperm, but there are other cubing yt’s that explain this concept. This is fairly straightforward, and although it might increase your times, they will drop over time. If you want to, you can learn good F2L algs for certain cases, but for now, intuitive should do you just fine.
4. CROSS ON BOTTOM!: I cannot emphasize this enough. This is crucial, because you can transition into other steps without turning the cube. This will take some practice, but it is not that hard, especially once you get used to it. Don’t worry about an “efficient” or “fast” cross yet; learn to solve it on the bottom at all times.

Goal: Sub-50: Sub 50 sec is a bit difficult, but you should be able to conquer this one quickly. This one is just being more aware of pieces, and not taking so much time looking for pieces.
You should
  • Learn intuitive F2L
  • Most, if not all basic finger tricks learned
  • Cross on bottom 100% of the time

1. Learn 2 look OLL and PLL. If you have been following any guide for solving the last layer, you should already have learned 2 look OLL, which brings all the yellow pieces (assuming you solve white on the bottom) to the yellow side. Then, there’s 2 look PLL, which you should know/be doing. If you go to jperm.net (yes I love jperm), there is a 2 Look OLL/PLL as well as full OLL/PLL. You should know all of the 2 Look algs, as there aren’t too many.
2. Enforce your F2L skills. It is important to learn some algs for the F2L cases that just take you so much time. Search up an F2L alg sheet, and they will make your life easier. Don’t try to alg your way through F2L, as intuitive is more simplified, and will mostly be sufficient for sub-50.
3. Improve cross a bit. At this point, you shouldn't have to put each cross piece into the top layer then do a double move to insert it. You should be able to: Solve 2 cross edges at once, and solve bad cross pieces (requires more than 2 moves to solve) efficiently. You should solve any cross in less than 8 moves, but don’t worry about that now. Just be aware of what turns you make, and how that affects the other cross pieces.

Goal: Sub-40: This is a sub-goal for most people, as sub-40 is usually the big stepping stone. However, there are some tips I can give you to improve your times.
You should:
  • Learned 2 look OLL and PLL (all the cases)
  • Cross on bottom & less than 8 moves at least 25% of the time
  • Solid Intuitive F2L
  • Basic finger tricks learned, some intermediate/advanced learned
  • Know which hand is dominant for algs (either hand is ok)

1. Practice. A lot. The only thing stopping you from advancing is lack of solves/practice. If you can, try doing 100 solves a day, and your times will get better over time just from doing the same F2L cases and Last Layer cases over and over. This is where some people give up, because they are able to solve the cube fairly well, but are not motivated enough/know enough to progress. Most people expect to get faster times quickly, but it’s a long process. You have to grind it out; yes, it cliche, but it's true. Every solve you do will increase your knowledge of cases, and also slowly increase your TPS (turns per second) as you do the cases more often.
2. Drill 2 look OLL and PLL algs. Remember, these 2 look algs are used for the more advanced OLL and PLL, so make sure that you repeat the algs over and over again. If you’re just laying around, or watching some yt, spam some random algs; it will make your fingers comfortable with the alg and make it automatically happen without you thinking when the case shows up. If you want to, there are easy OLL and PLL algs that you can learn in an instant, and this will help you one-look the last layer with one alg for solving the yellow, and 1 alg for correcting the edges and corners on the last layer.
3. Do your algs correctly. This is crucial when lowering your times. If you only turn the F face with your index finger, and never use your thumb, that will become a huge problem later on. Learn the algs and turns correctly, so that you don’t have to worry about them later. For example, you want to use double flicks for m-moves, not single ones, as double flicks are so much faster.

Goal: Sub-35: This is a big one for 1 reason; you’re ever so close to the sub-30 range, which is a great achievement. This requires a lot of practice, but if you have done everything mentioned above (and other things that you may learn along the way), you can get this one knocked out in a couple of weeks.
You should:
  • Be comfortable with all 2 look OLL and PLL cases
  • Semi-efficient or efficient with cross
  • All important algs (different for each person) for F2L learned
  • Double M, U and D flicks
  • Solving the cube regularly

1. Start learning full PLL. Don’t try to learn all of them quickly, because you still have time to learn them. They are only crucial once you are sub 30. However, learn some, and learn them no more than 2 at a time. I would recommend starting with the Jb perm, as it is very similar to the T perm, which you learn in 2 Look PLL. Next, learn the A perms; they are useful when you have double cycles (do a U perm and an A perm to solve an unknown PLL). After this, anything is ok to learn, but end with the G-perms, as they are the most annoying IMO, and they are not needed immediately.
2. Try to be move efficient. This is always something that everyone says. Different ways of saying it include: “Be more efficient with F2L/Cross”, or “Learn efficient F2L cases”. But most cubers don’t understand this, as they are not equipped with enough knowledge to understand why rotating the cube is bad. The reason is as follows: By rotating the cube, you use up time. This is correctable, which is why it is important to not rotate as often. If you have to do a U4 to know which PLL you’re looking at, you have to change that. Don’t be afraid to use F moves to insert your F2L pairs, rather than turning and then inserting it with L or R moves. Also, Try not to do a U3, when you could’ve done a U in the other direction. This is what I struggled with a lot; recognizing which way to turn.
3. Start thinking about lookahead in F2L: This is NOT an important thing, just something to be thought about. When you solve one pair, faster solvers are looking at another pair, and where its corner and edge is. But for most people at this stage, they look at the pair they are solving, looking at the pair going into the slot as they work through their alg. However, this is NOT efficient, and if you are good with your F2L algs, you should be able to do them blindfolded. I’m not asking you to look at another pair while solving your current pair, I’m suggesting that you try to do your current pair without looking at the pair being solved.
4. Time yourself. You should be timing your solves, unless you are practicing something new or are intentionally solving slower. This helps you track your improvement, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. A good website timer is cstimer, and a good app timer (for phone) is ChaoTimer. However, there are so many timers out there, and it doesn't really matter. I just find the two I mentioned to be the best and most clean looking to me. Make sure you don't call yourself sub-x if you've only gotten that time once or twice. Its one thing to\ get a lucky PB scramble, but its another thing to get sub-x consistently. If your average for 100 solves (ao100) is under your goal, whether it be sub-40 or sub-10, it is safe to say that you've hit your goal. To sum it up, time yourself, and track your progress; you can look back on it and see how far you've come!

Goal: Sub-30: This is a HARD milestone to conquer, and this is where I struggled the most. I conquered this milestone in a couple of weeks, and you can too! These are some important tips you should consider.
You should:
  • Learning full PLL
  • Eliminate U4’s from your solves
  • Less than 8 moves for your cross more or equal to 50% of the time

1. Learn Full PLL. This is a good time to start learning full PLL, as it will help you. If you’ve already learned PLL, or are starting to learn it, you should be finished if you want to be sub 30. You don’t NEED to be done with full PLL to be sub-30; it's just a highly recommended tip. There is no specific order, but I did outline a general order above. Just go through them, and you should be fine. The one exception are the G perms. For some reason, I didn’t learn them until sub 25, and I was fine then.
2. Slow Solve. Some people spam TPS, and some people spend too much time looking for pairs, and recognizing OLL and PLL. You may find yourself in one of these groups, especially as a 35-40 second solver. I was a “too many pauses” guy, but this tip applies to anyone struggling with recognition or spamming TPS. Slow solving is designed for the cuber to smoothly transition from one part of a solve into another. For example, think about all the times that you’ve solved the cross, but spend precious seconds looking for your 1st F2L pair. This eliminates that pause by forcing the cuber to look, and make so many turns. To slow solve, you have to be constantly solving, and be aware of the moving pieces. Turn as slow as you want, and long as you don’t stop turning. This will eventually get you faster, as your TPS will increase, but your pauses will be eliminated. This is kinda boring, but is beneficial for those who are committed to becoming faster than sub 20, as pauses and spamming useless turns is not seen in most solvers under 15 seconds. Slow solving=slow improvement.
3. CN: Color neutral is a sub goal for many cubers, but is harder as you go faster. If you learn to solve the cross from all sides, this will shave off seconds when you have a good cross on a side other than white/yellow, and you can take advantage of it. To be CN is to know the color patterns of the F2L cases, and be able to filter out the top color (yellow if white’s on bottom), and look for corners with your cross color, and find the edges matching to the corner. It’s better to start early, and it is definitely beneficial. Be aware that this might not be a goal you want to shoot for, and that's ok. You can still be a fast solver while only solving from the white cross. However, at the very least, shoot for dual CN, which is solving both white and yellow crosses, as they have similar patterns.
4. Start to learn Full OLL. Nothing much to say about this. Just learn the easy cases, or some that are easy to you, and spam them when you’re bored or doing something else. No specific order, but I suggest you learn the dot cases last IMO.

Goal: Sub 20: Disclaimer: you will be frustrated and confused at why you can’t get faster. I was like that too. This one took me the most time to conquer, and it requires a lot of practice (yes, I know), as well as more practice…
You should:
  • Learning Full OLL (some of them) and all under sub-3 sec
  • Learned Full PLL and be sub-3 sec with all of them (for the dreaded N perms)
  • Little/no pauses when solving
  • Learned important F2L algs, if not all of them

1. Start to solve pairs into the back. This is HUGE, as if you can do this, you don’t have to rotate as much, a great thing if you want to get faster. To do this, you have to have an ok (I didn’t say awesome) F2L lookahead, which was introduced when you started slow solving. To look ahead, you should solve your current pair without looking, and look at pieces of another pair, and track where they are ended/ending up. If you can track 2 pieces, or even 1 piece, you are on track to be sub-20. This is the single most important thing that you need to at least familiarize yourself with. Some may still not understand this, but it is important to know that this is not the “F2L lookahead” that everyone says very vaguely, this is specifically solving pairs into the back, and knowing what pieces are in the back slots are needed to be able to solve into the back. If you are not actively looking ahead, at the very least know what’s in the back slots so you can take them out accordingly. The back slots are often untouched unless you take them out (or you use keyslotting or other techniques similar to that), so you should familiarize yourself with looking at what goes into the back slots.
2. Good cross to F2L transition. This is the one place that everyone struggles/struggled with. Like F2L lookahead, this is kinda lookahead, but more like memorizing the cross. If you memorize your cross, then you can look for your F2L pair without thinking about the cross. A good way to practice this is to do your cross with your eyes closed. However, I used to think “give me more detail. How long, how much, and why?”. I will answer all 3 of these questions. You should do 50 cross solves a day minimum, and this is easy because of corona. You should be doing this for at least a week, and you shouldn’t try to solve your 1st F2L pair after the cross, unless you are a tracking god and can do it blindfolded. After a week or 2 blind solving the cross, solve the cross for a day or 2 with your eyes open, to get used to looking at the cube while solving the cross. Now, you should track your first F2L pair and start to transition from cross to F2L. Good transition will come with time, but if you are diligent with tracking, you’ll be a pro in no time! (again, very cliche).
3. Alg Subsets. A common question asked in this stage is: should I learn COLL, VLS, WV, etc? My answer is, not yet. You have to be solid with 1 look OLL first, as it is much more important to nail that down as opposed to learning forced PLL algs or whatever it may be. Continue to learn OLL cases, and you should be good for now. If you are bored, and are done with OLL, then by all means, go for it! It's good to know but not important enough that it has to be implemented.
4. Time solves diligently. This one is unique, but every bit important as other tips. This one is important because the time spent making your first turn from releasing your hands from the timer is crucial. If your cube slips from your hands after rushing to turn the cube after starting the timer, your solve is toast. Also, getting shaky hands is a big no no, as well as sweaty hands or overall nervousness during your solves. If this happens, push through with your solve, and record it. The more nonchalant about bad solves that you are, the less nervous you will become about getting bad times. I was on the verge of my first sub 10 ao12 about 2 months ago, and on the last solve my cube fell out of my hand onto the floor, and popped. I was so pissed, but I still wrote the time. Also, if you reset the timer whenever something goes wrong, you have a better chance of doing this in real comps, and that is a stupid mistake that can cost you. So to summarize, time your solves well, and include +2’s, DNF’s, and anything else that happened in the solve. When you reach your sub-x goal without any restarts or goofs, that's when you know you’ve mastered that area of time (eg. 20-25 sec).
5. Start thinking about a better cube. If you’re planning to advance past sub-20, you should get yourself a cube from GAN, MoYu, DaYan, Valk, etc. I looked at video reviews to select my main cube, and that is what you should do too. You should have a good idea of what your style is (magnet strength, size, feel, turning, controllability), so you can look at other people’s reviews to identify which traits of a cube you like most, and maybe you’ll get that cube.
6. Cross. You should be good with cross, and have learned advanced techniques to put multiple cross pieces in at once. Again, the blind cross solves will help, but it is also important to make good choices for what moves you want to do. F moves are a big no no as a first turn, and B moves are inefficient in general. Try to get moves like R and D moves and make your cross that way. Again, cross is something that can always be improved, so try to consistently be under 4 sec for cross; ideally you want 2-3 sec crosses 100% of the time. There isn’t any “eye opening” tip for cross; just practice, and you will see the same patterns over and over again, and you will be able to pair them up efficiently based on the amount of times you’ve seen that “case”.
7. Record solves. Recording solves allows you to see what kind of pauses or mistakes you are making, and can help you reflect on what you need to work on, or what you accomplished. No fancy setup is needed; I use a phone and some books to prop it up on. Big pauses, many rotations, slow algs/recognition are all things that are seen in your recorded solves. Look at your weakest points, whether it be cross to F2L, that one PLL alg, and so on. Work on that part, and remember that improvement of that particular part is going to become better over time; 10 solves won’t cut it. It requires days, weeks, and even months of work. But if it’s correctable, it will be done, as long as you put the time and effort into doing it.

Goal: Sub 15: This is a HUGE milestone for any cuber, as the amount of people that are sub-20 are about equal to the # of people that can run a sub-4 mile. Congrats! You’ve made it this far, and never quit (or maybe those few times when your cube randomly exploded).
You should:
  • Full PLL and Full OLL (or at least 75% of them) with all of them at least sub-2 (again, the dreaded N perms)
  • Sub 20 regularly, with some sub 15 solves mixed in
  • Efficient cross all the time
  • Good or great tracking for F2L
  • Cross to F2L transition relatively fast and smooth
  • Sub 2 cross all the time

1. Keyhole and psudoslotting. These are 2 techniques that are good when there is an empty slot. I won’t go into depth for these techniques because they are explained better in yt videos, but I will give an overview of them. Psudoslotting solves 2 pairs at once, but is harder to implement because you have to track 2 pairs at once (4 pieces) instead of only 1 pair (2 pieces). Keyhole is when you misorient the D layer to insert a piece into the desired slot, and is fairly intuitive and is move count efficient. This is not needed to get faster, but it is good to know.
2. Lookahead. You should be looking ahead all the time, and making your F2L fairly, if not completely, smooth. It is a good thing to be able to know what’s in the back slots, and to be able to smoothly transition from one pair to another. By doing so, you are setting yourself up to have higher TPS in the long term, and that will only make your solves better and faster.
3. Start some alg subsets. Learning subsets will help you, whether it forces PLL cases, skips OLL entirely, or gives you a better chance of a PLL/OLL skip. I would recommend, at this stage, COLL or WV. WV skips OLL when you insert your last slot, and all the edges are oriented. The last slot has to be inserted by R U’ R’, however. It is a small alg set that is useful in some cases. COLL forces edge PLL’s when all of the edges are oriented in the OLL stage. This is especially good, cause who doesn’t want to spam H, U, or Z perms? However, it's about 40 algs (minus sune/anti sune), and is fairly big, but easily conquerable. Other ones include BLE, ZBLL, and VLS. Try to learn one of them, as it increases recognition time a bit, but overall drops your time, so it’s worth it. It will benefit you a little when you’re going for sub-10 and below.
4. Don’t rotate to solve PLL’s, turn the U face instead. This is something I didn’t know until sub 15, and boy did it change my thought process regarding PLL’s. This is called AUF’ing, and is useful because of a reduction of rotations, crucial for sub-15 and beyond. However, there are certain patterns to recognize for each PLL, and some are very hard to figure out. I would search “guide to AUF” or something similar to that and get started, if you haven’t already.
5. Take advantage of your cube. If your cube corner cuts well, you can make more “risky” turns. If your cube has weaker corner cutting, be more accurate. Your turning style has a lot to do with your cube, so don’t try to spam TPS if your cube is super fast or non-magnetic and loose… the list goes on and on. Find a cube that fits your turning style and stick with it. Don’t change the tensions on your cube every week trying to find the one perfect for you. If there’s one you like, don’t change it unless something big happens either to you or your cube.
6. Don’t look at the timer while you solve. It happens to all of us: we look at the timer and we’re on pace to get a pb… then you fail hard. Don’t worry about your time, worry about the solve in front of you. If you aren’t gonna get the pb, or you feel like it’s a bad solve, nothing will change it, and looking at the seconds tick by will make you more uncomfortable, for lack of a better word. Get the solve done, then look back on it.
7. Cross F2L transition (again). Again, this is something everyone can work on, and even so when working toward sub 1x goals. My cross F2L transition is great… when I can track the pieces. Sometimes it’s impossible to do so. For that, I slow my cross just a little so I don't see random colors flying into random places. I have to compensate to have a smooth transition. However, that is not ideal, as you won’t be getting faster times necessarily.

Sub-12 is tricky to recognize. You should be consistently getting sub-12 solves, but that often ties to sub-10, so people tend to think of sub-10 as the next goal after sub-15. However, there are still things you should refine to be prepared for sub-10 and beyond.
You should:
  • Full OLL and PLL and all 1-1.5 sec with few exceptions
  • Transition from cross-F2L very smooth and without pause
  • Lookahead decent, can either track, predict, or both
  • Some advanced techniques implemented (alg subset or F2L technique etc) *optional
  • Sub 1.5 cross
  • Have a non-budget cube if you can
  • Sub 15 times 99% of the time
  • No rotations for PLL’s

1. Recognize if you are really ready to take up this challenge. It is assumed often that you should challenge yourself to sub-12 right when you reach sub-15. This may not be true all of the time. You should comfortably have sub-14 times to even consider sub-12. Sub-15 is still a time where you can spam F2L and rotate a lot and still reach 14.xxx. You should look back and practice your F2L to be more efficient (again), and get your cross times down by a hair. Then, THEN you are ready to read the rest of this guide.
2. Practice OLL and PLL, specifically getting the transition to be more smooth. You should be at full OLL and PLL, and your algs should be trained by muscle memory and very fast. However, if you don't practice the transition, you will take more time during PLL and that is something that could be saved easily by practicing. Imagine getting a sune or other easy OLL, but executing so fast you can't recognize what PLL you have fast enough; it's happened to all of us before. I would recommend solving F2L, then while doing OLL, slowing down a little during the last 2-4 moves to have ample time to recognize the PLL. I would also recommend trying to cancel into PLL if you can recognize that, although it is likely you won't. Finally, rotate quickly for A perms, E perms, or any other perms you rotate with before or during the alg. No way to practice this, just don't hesitate.
3. Warm up efficiently. If you are warming up after waking up, or are just warming up your hands, you should have a routine by now. For me, I like to do 4 slow solves, 4 "regular solves", and 4 "TPS" solves, as well as PLL spamming. To sum this quick tip up, have a routine that is relatively short and will not tire you out too much
4. Lookahead. I don't even have to explain this. To improve F2L lookahead during your solve, I would recommend going slower (obviously), but changing the way you look at the pieces. Determine which piece you look for first (either edge or corner) and look for the opposite one instead. Chances are you look for the cross color on the corner, then look for the corresponding edge. Switch it up, and solidify your lookahead for both pieces, that way you have more flexibility in what you have to look for. A final tip to improve F2L lookahead is to have at least 1 alg, if not 2, for each F2L case. There are so many efficient F2L cases that are only used for one or two situations, and that's what makes them hidden and unlearned. I would recommend trying out alt algs in F2L sheets and add them to your arsenal.
5. Don't give up! It is common for people to quit when they're sub-40, sub-30, and sub-20, but you've made it this far. You're so close to sub-10, and its a lot of practice away. Although it'll take some time, unless you've really lost interest, there is always a new way to practice and have fun cubing. Trust me, its worth it to be able to solve a cube in under 12, or under 10 seconds, for personal achievement and for impressing people!

Goal: Sub-10: This is a hard goal, let me tell you… The splits for cross, F2L, OLL, and PLL now depend entirely on your personal preference. Some solve the cross insanely fast, while some are gods at OLL and PLL. Whatever the case is, there are still some tips for you to get to this goal.
You should:
  • Full OLL and PLL and all 1-2 sec
  • Great transition from cross to F2L
  • Lookahead on par
  • Some advanced techniques implemented (alg subset or F2L technique etc) *optional
  • Sub 1.5 cross, if not sub 1
  • Sub 12 times 99% of the time
  • U turns only for PLL’s

1. It's time to get your TPS up. Now is the time to unleash your max TPS power (not spam and waste turns)! To gain TPS, you should practice some more slow solving (yes, I know, more boring stuff). You should continue to spam your PLL and OLL algs, as well as any other algs that you know. You should be proficient at “dragging” for U turns, doing F turns all sorts of ways, and being comfortable doing any m move. TPS is something that can be high, but at the cost of useless turns. It is important to increase your TPS based on your move efficiency and lookahead. If you can’t do F2L efficiently, there’s no point in spamming TPS, as it will hurt you later.
2. Don’t worry about splits. At this stage, splits are dependent on the type of turner/learner you are. Like I said earlier, you can be good at cross, OLL, PLL, or an all-rounder. The important thing is to make sure your transition is smooth & fast, from each stage to the next. For example, if your F2L to OLL transition is weak, go onto cstimer.net and solve the last slot+last layer. If your PLL recognition is lacking, do a PLL trainer and learn the different angles of each PLL. Splits are just a guideline, not a must. If your cross isn’t god-tier, don’t worry. If you’re going to be sub-10, you’re gonna balance out the stages yourself.
3. Work on CN if you haven’t already. Now’s the time to learn CN if you haven’t already. It will be hard, but if you want to, you should now. There are a multitude of reasons to learn, but it only shaves off a little of your solve time, while taking months at this stage to conquer. Again, this is optional, but it's very nice to have under your belt. Try for dual CN and maybe 4 side CN if you don’t want to learn full CN.
4. Solve, solve, solve… and solve. This is obviously the most boring and the most basic answer given by cubers who give advice regarding this. Of course you need to solve, and solve, but what good will it do, and what actually improves? I’ll answer these questions. The improvement comes with repetition, just like in sports. If you don’t get that many reps, you won’t improve. Same thing here. If you just do an Ao5 and call it quits, you’re not trying at all. If you don’t have time for cubing, then at least do some algs at home, while you’re doing other things that don’t use your hands (yt, laying down, etc). So then what good will it do? I hear this statement from a lot of people: “I want to improve, but my F2L lookahead and cross to F2L is great, what do I do now?” One other thing I see a lot with 15 sec solvers, is that their PLL recognition is not 100%. This is due to lack of practice with all of the PLL’s. Of course anyone can recognize a U perm, or an H perm, but some others get a little tricky. If your PLL recognition is really good, then there's one more thing that people struggle with:
5. Left and right hand equality Your cubing “dominant” hand is the hand that makes m moves; most people use their right hand for that. However, it is important to make sure both hands are capable of doing the same things. I’m not talking about OLL, PLL algs or making m moves with both. I’m saying that for F2L and cross, you should be comfortable working with both to put in pairs and such. You should also be able to use both thumbs for F moves, if need be (although I don’t think you’ll need it very often).

Goal: Sub 9: Sub 9 took me quite a while, especially because I didn’t truly consider myself as a sub-9 solver until I made the occasional 10 sec solves happen as little as possible. Of course, mistakes happen, and there's always the one time you get a 15 sec solve…
You Should:
  • Have learned all OLL/PLL algs and them taking 2 sec max
  • Little recognition time for OLL and PLL algs
  • Cross sub-1 99% of the time
  • Great F2L lookahead & ability to track pieces
  • Very minimal rotations of the cube, and very little U3’s or other useless moves.
  • Cross to F2L transition smooth as heck
  • Sub-10 solves pretty often, enough that an 12-13 sec solve is “bad” in your eyes

1. Time is key. If you’ve been cubing for less than a year, maybe your PB is 9.xx, but chances are you aren’t consistently sub 9, or even sub 15 for that matter (of course there are many exceptions). If you want to go from sub 10 to sub 9, you have to give it time. As time progresses, your algs, whether it be PLL, OLL, or subsets (COLL, ZBLL, etc), it can always be faster. Drilling algs don’t seem as useful or as beneficial as it used to be, and that’s partially true. Although you don’t need to spam algs and work on them for 30 min, you should still be spamming algs when you’re doing things not requiring much effort.
2. CN. Start it now. If you aren’t fully CN, or aren’t even dual CN, now is the time to work on it. CN is something that’s better to be learned earlier than later. By sub-8, it takes a lot more effort to complete CN than it is to do it when you’re averaging 30 sec. For me, I learned dual CN at around 30 sec, and learned quad CN at 20 sec. The only one I’m still working with is orange cross, and it's a big pain, especially when I see solves going as high as 15 sec. To practice, you should look at some tutorials/guides from cubing youtubers, or people on the forum; I can’t really help because I’m not fully CN. What I can tell you is to start with a yellow cross (assuming you’ve been solving on the white cross all the time). IF you’re already dual CN, do either blue/green or orange/red, as they have similar cross patterns and F2L pairs.
3. Lookahead. You can have the fastest OLL and PLL algs, you can have the fastest and most efficient cross, but if you aren’t efficient with F2L, and are not doing it for every solve, you’re not able to progress further. Lookahead is one of the things that can always improve. No one can track the next pair perfectly 100% of the time. Sometimes, your focus drops, and that's when you forget where your pieces are and end up with a long pause. If you want to reach sub 9, take a step back, and look where your weak point is. Maybe it’s planning a 1st F2L pair during inspection, or maybe it's tracking the back slot pieces during F2L. Whatever it is, it's obviously slowing you down. If tracking pieces in the back is your problem, go super slow and try to predict what goes in and out of that slot. If you have a hard time maintaining fluidity in your solve, be more sharp and focused when looking ahead, and be sure you know where the next pairs are, and how you’re gonna solve it.
4. Correct your “mistakes”. At the sub-10 stage, it is still possible to have ok lookahead, and just spam TPS, or have slow PLL algs but a fast F2L to make up for it. From sub-9 and below, it becomes incredibly hard to improve when there’s one thing hindering you. I’ll list each stage of a CFOP solve (broken down a bit), and give a tip to improve each one.

Cross: Cross should be under 1 sec. To improve, I would recommend just memorizing the cross and not looking ahead to your 1st F2L pair. After you are comfortable with just the cross, try to slowly add in the 1st F2L pair into your inspection time.

Cross-F2L transition: Cross to F2L should be flawless and smooth, with a lot of fluidity and almost no hesitation. If you struggle with this, I would recommend practicing “easy crosses” on cstimer, so you don’t have to worry about cross as much, and you can focus on the transition more. Another thing that is super obvious is to slow down during your cross, and find the pieces as you’re executing cross. However, I would add a caveat to this. Instead of just doing regular slow solving, I would do a solve at regular speed, then redo the scramble, and go slower to see if there would have been an easier F2L pair to start with.

F2L lookahead/tracking: You should, again, have fluidity, for one, and be able to execute each F2L pair without much thought. If you have trouble doing this, practice finding a pair and solve it while looking for just the corner or the edge, and be able to predict or know where it will end up. After this, add in the other piece of your F2L pair, and repeat with the other pairs. Tracking 2 pieces is a lot harder than just tracking 1.

OLL recognition: Each OLL should be comfortable to execute, yet fast and without much thinking. Especially for dot cases, OLL cases can be hard to recognize; finding the yellow bars and patterns can be difficult to bring up from your memory. I would choose 3 OLL algs a day that you struggle with, and work with those on an alg trainer. Another tip is to force a better OLL case using edge control, which prevents dot cases, a pain in the butt for most cubers for its length and complexity. I would recommend learning edge control from jperm, yet again. He explains, and shows how edge control can be useful, and how to execute it during your solve.

PLL Recognition: Each PLL should take under 1.5 sec for the most part, and A, U, H, and Z perms taking easily sub .8. I would suggest becoming more confident with AUF’ing, and you should never be rotating the cube to solve the PLL. Easy perms to recognize are U perms, A perms, J perms, etc. However, some other perms can be hard to recognize from a different angle. Jperm (again) has a good video on AUFing. It’s pretty old, but that's where I learned it.

The following guides will be highlighting the transition from the beginners method to CFOP, as well as explaining 4LLL vs. 2LLL, good alg subsets to learn, and much more!
The beginner's method is one of the most common methods to start out with, but is has the highest move count and is not as efficient as any other methods that are out there, such as Roux, Petrus, ZZ, and of course, CFOP. This sub-guide will give you a general pathing for transitioning from the beginner's method to CFOP. Note: This will not include anything further than the basics, so if you know CFOP already, this most likely will not help you.

1. Start solving cross on bottom. This is crucial, because if you learned to solve it from the top, you will have to flip over the cube, and that will severely hinder your times, as well as the pieces that you have to track. If you see a corner, but you have to rotate, chances are you don't know how to insert it, and therefore you have to 1. solve a different/easier corner piece, or 2. take time to figure out how to solve that specific corner. Every CFOP solver solves cross on bottom, no question about that, so this is the #1 you should get used to.

2. Switch to 4LLL, if you haven't already. 4LLL is solving the last layer in 2 steps: 2 look OLL, which orients the yellow (assuming you start white cross) pieces and places them on the top, and 2 look PLL, which orients the wrong corners/edges in the last layer. The reason why this is #2 is because some people, myself included, spammed the Sune case for OLL, or did a different beginner and inefficient "method" for OLL/PLL. To find these algs, go onto jperm.net, or just search up "2 look OLL, 2 look PLL", and the algs should show up. There are not too many algs for both OLL/PLL, so this should be easier than you think to learn.

3. Start learning intuitive F2L. Intuitive F2L is what transitions you into solving both the edge and the corner at once, whereas you would solve it in two steps using the beginners method. To learn intuitive F2L, you should take a look at a video by the yt content creator jperm, which is where I learned it from. Intuitive F2L is pairing up the corner and edge in 2 different ways, depending on if the corner has the cross color on the top or the side. It is most definitely faster, because it pairs both pieces at once, and it is more efficient than the beginners method. However, you will be slow, guaranteed when learning a new method, and it will suck. This is pretty important, and once you get this down, you can start learning algs for the F2L cases that take you a long time to separate, pair up, and insert.

4. Learn to have more efficient crosses, which is 8 moves or less. If you learned beginners method like me, you would just put the edges oriented in a cross, but the color didn't always match the colors of the other centers, so you would have to do F2 U/U2 F2 to match the edges with its center (if you don't understand, you probably didn't learn it this way). To make efficient cross, you should first eliminate doing F2 U/U2 F2 moves, and instead move the D layer (assuming cross in on bottom) to insert the correctly oriented edges. For example, if the blue/white edge is misaligned, and the blue edge is facing the red side, do a D' to put it in the correct place instead of doing R2 U F2. Another thing you have to stop doing is only solving one cross piece at a time. A lot of the time beginners only solve 1 piece at a time for simplicity and because they believe the cross doesn't have to be fast. That is not true, as it may well be the most important part of your solve, besides F2L. One last thing to start doing is to spend more your inspection time. Beginner cubers tend to start their timer and just start cubing, but in fact, inspection gives you time to plan out your cross, or at least some of it.

5. Start learning some alga for F2L, for intuitive isn’t enough and there are many cases in which you should have a more efficient alg. I would suggest any f2l pdf or just search up F2L cases on yt or google search it. It is fairly self-explanatory, and it will be very beneficial, you’ll see...

6. At this point you should look at my guides for sub-x, as it has tips for 2LLL and advancing further in your CFOP journey.

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

My custom guide service costs... absolutely nothing, as I know how it feels to be too broke, too young to pay for critiques and/or guides. I am not going to critique your solves, as that's not my style. Instead, I will send a detailed guide customized to specific things that you want explained or more in depth. I did a "sample" guide with @Cubing5life, and both him and I can say it was a success! To get the guide, I would strongly advise not asking for a guide until you're at least sub-1 min, and even at that time I would be hesitant. The reason is because it will take time for mew to make each guide, and at that speed, it is most likely a lack of solves that is hindering you. I also have the general guides above. This service is more geared toward "intermediate" and some advances speedcubers, ranging from around sub-40 to sub-10.

To be put on the waiting list for this service, just PM me with the title "Custom Guide Service", so I know that you are interested in this service. In the PM, please add the following information:
1. Average (Not your best single, NOT your lucky skip solves)
2. Up to 2 topics that you would like included in this guide (may go up to 3, depending on interest from the community)
3. What alg sets you know (OLL, PLL, VLS, BLE, WV, etc)
4. How long you've been cubing
5. Roughly how many 3x3 solves (rounded to the nearest 10) that you do per week

One thing that I would like from you is if you like the guide, just reply to this thread with some positivity toward my guide, or some tips on improving the guide itself, so I can gain some more interest, as I would love to help as many people as I can! However, if you'd like to support me even further, a Cubicle or SCS gift card of any amount would be greatly appreciated, although it isn't necessary!

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Oct 27, 2019
An uncolonized sector of the planet Mars
Looks great! There are a few things that we disagree on(i.e: I think PLL is better around 25-30 and OLL either right after or sub-20), but overall I think it's great!

Also, if anyone whose reading this is trying to break a sub-30 or sub-20 barrier and they hate or have a lot of trouble learning algs, know that I was sub-20 with 4lll and am almost sub-15 with 3lll. I wouldn't recommend putting off learning them for that long, because it requires very fast/efficient F2L to make up for it(hence why my F2L is expert level efficiency) and it's overall way easier to learn 2lll, but it's definitely possible.


May 11, 2020
Visit Channel
Looks great! There are a few things that we disagree on(i.e: I think PLL is better around 25-30 and OLL either right after or sub-20), but overall I think it's great!

Also, if anyone whose reading this is trying to break a sub-30 or sub-20 barrier and they hate or have a lot of trouble learning algs, know that I was sub-20 with 4lll and am almost sub-15 with 3lll. I wouldn't recommend putting off learning them for that long, because it requires very fast/efficient F2L to make up for it(hence why my F2L is expert level efficiency) and it's overall way easier to learn 2lll, but it's definitely possible.
Wise words....
And I totally agree.

Zubin Park

May 27, 2020
Looks great! There are a few things that we disagree on(i.e: I think PLL is better around 25-30 and OLL either right after or sub-20), but overall I think it's great!

Also, if anyone whose reading this is trying to break a sub-30 or sub-20 barrier and they hate or have a lot of trouble learning algs, know that I was sub-20 with 4lll and am almost sub-15 with 3lll. I wouldn't recommend putting off learning them for that long, because it requires very fast/efficient F2L to make up for it(hence why my F2L is expert level efficiency) and it's overall way easier to learn 2lll, but it's definitely possible.
Very true... just trying to be proactive!

I just wanted to tell those who want tips to be sub-30/sub-20 what they could work on and some general in depth analysis for some tips that are generally given, but not really understood, as well as addressing a lot of "help I need tips for sub-x". @ProStar you're completely right tho, and although OLL/PLL are something up to the cuber, the times that you learned OLL/PLL are about what many cubers would do.


May 11, 2020
Visit Channel
Totally agree with that. Whenever I get an OLL i know i almost always get a sub 16
I don't know much PLL, however, whenever me and @Zain_A24 discuss about our times, it always seems to come down to PLL as I hardly ever have to complete a U perm in a solve, whereas, SpeedCubeCritic does due to his lack of knowledge in PLL algorithms...

Zubin Park

May 27, 2020
Yeah, I was going for a relatively quick guide, as I saw many "I need help for sub-20/sub15, but sure, I'll be happy to write it up for you, in addition to a sub-8/sub-9 guide.