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Positive Habitual Changes To Improve Your Solves and Solving Experience

Fear

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Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
51
So..... It's time for a little rant. This is, in my opinion, one of the more underdiscussed topics on speedsolving, and I think that it deserves attention.

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One of the things that I have come to realize in my ~5 months of cubing is that, while there is quite a lot that you can do during your solves to improve, not all of them are directly related to the cube itself. I know, initially this sounds like I'm about to go on a long rant about my different cubing superstitions and solving mentality, but that's not really the important part here. It would be redunt to discuss anyhow, because that is mostly a personal thing and only directly influences state of mind. (It is worth note that state of mind can also affect your solving, but the aforementioned will not directly affect solve times.

Some other things, however, in terms of actually universally positive cubing habits that will directly improve your times in practice and competition. I've come to realize after solving ~sub 22 that, after learning major algs sets like PLL and OLL (or respective important algsets for other methods), you really improve your times with minor, rather nitpicky things, like shaving a fraction of time by working with lookahead and efficiency while slowing tps, drilling algs to get .1 second faster, or utilizing inspection to plan farther than previously and try and track that as you execute your solve. At sub 22, this is nowhere near as prevelent as it becomes as you get even faster. All of these adjustments that you make, however, add up and stack in order to create a larger total improvement.

Anyway, to tie this all back together, clearly it is important to focus on the small stuff as you solve. The habits listed below are, in my opinion, on par if not more important than the minor aspects to your actual solving in terms of time that can be shaved.

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The List:
  • Warm Up
This one is so important! For many this is really obvious but I wanted to make a complete list so I included this. In reality, solving requires a great deal of concentration and when you pick it up, it's like a sport: When you perform a skill cold, it's not going to be done as well as if you had prepared. Basic stuff.
  • Posture
I recently really started to focus on posture during my solves, which actually prompted me to create this. An upright posture will increase alertness and decrease your times. Only this weekend, I was doing some solves and my ao100 was actually much worse than it had been in the weekdays previous. and it was consistently much worse when I was sitting in a recliner or relaxed position in comparison to an upright and attentive position. At my school, I would usually cube on a bench which would really force this good posture. Also, solving at a table is always a good thing. You may not be always able to do this but honestly, I've found it recently very important. In fact, my solves are consistently ~1 second faster when timing with good posture, which is huge in reference to being sub 22.
  • Stretching
This ties in closely to warmup, but it also really helps prevent injury. This is more prominent in older cubers, and I've been blessed to not have any issues with wrist pain etc, even after up to 300 solves in one day. It may seem like this is a "wimpy" or un-needed thing, but it is a great practice to precede your warm up. It's really quick as well. Just stretch out those fingers and wrists in whatever way feels moderately comfortable (keep in mind it is a stretch, so you should feel that, but don't hurt yourself) and go on warming up. It's pretty simple as well and will help you out by potentially preventing injury.
  • Taking Breaks
This one won't so much help your times, but it's a really good thing to do. Because, let's be honest. We can call cubing a sport, but it's not really that physically demanding or healthy (it's only unhealthy if you're sitting and doing it for an extended period of time). It's kind of hard sometimes to break yourself off in the middle of a hot streak of solves and force youself to get up and around and do something else, but this is especially important if you have issues with pains and injuries. Also, if you live with family, they'll appreciate the lack of cube noise :).
  • Being comfortable
This is a little more vauge, but important nonetheless. This also ties into the rest of the previous things, but encompasses more of the personal care stuff. While good posture is important, if you've been sitting for quite a while and you now are uncomfortable in that solving position, take a break. Also, be sure to hydrate if you need it and don't neglate basic human needs. Also super simple but sometimes overlooked in a longer cubing session. Treat yo' self.

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Overall, just try and follow these tips and hopefully your experience with cubing will be improved, along with hopefully your times. If there is anything else that you feel I have left out, please let me know. I'm equally interested to know what else I haven't thought of yet.
 

pglewis

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Sep 23, 2016
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Cincinnati
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2016LEWI07
Musicians and athletes pushing the envelope do these things but cubers pushing the envelope seem to just focus on methods/alg-sets/raw TPS. I think your list is an important set of fundamentals that is overlooked more than it should be in this hobby/sport.
 

Fear

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
51
Musicians and athletes pushing the envelope do these things but cubers pushing the envelope seem to just focus on methods/alg-sets/raw TPS. I think your list is an important set of fundamentals that is overlooked more than it should be in this hobby/sport.
I agree with you, but to be fair, I don't know of a very fast person who doesn't actually exibit positive habits when practicing, simply because I don't see them practice. Therefore I'm witholding judgement on anyone in particular. You may very well be correct, however.
 

pglewis

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Sep 23, 2016
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2016LEWI07
Yeah, I really misspoke... I shouldn't say that a lot of people don't focus on these things because I don't know how they practice. But I haven't seen much mention of these habits around the forums.
 

Fear

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Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
51
That makes me wonder, what are some faster peoples' thoughts on what I mentioned previously in terms of non-cubing ways to improve your cubing? In terms of what you do and if you perceive it to be pretty superstitous or a solid way to practice etc.
 

Smiles

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Apr 22, 2012
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JPerm
At competitions, I used to underperform in finals because I really wanted to be prepared and tired myself out throughout the day. When I feel like my brain is fatigued, my look ahead and reaction time become noticeably worse.

Also, I'll do a good solve at the beginning of a session and look at the time and it's 1 second slower than I thought it was. Warm up definitely makes you faster.

Posture can also prevent RSI and the like.

Being hydrated helps me, but at competitions water makes me cold and being cold is worse than being dehydrated.
 

Fear

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
51
At competitions, I used to underperform in finals because I really wanted to be prepared and tired myself out throughout the day. When I feel like my brain is fatigued, my look ahead and reaction time become noticeably worse.
That's why I personally believe that warmup shouldn't necessarily just be cubing. Some people are used to super long sessions so it can work for them but at a comp you're basically cubing all day. That can be taxing mentally.

Hydration isn't something that I've noticed a whole ton, but I ususally drink enough fluids so it hasn't been a problem.
 

Teoidus

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Feb 11, 2016
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This is a very minor thing but I've noticed this recently and found it very interesting--try to slow solve/practice lookahead on a cube with small (i.e. the opposite of full-fitted) stickers. This trains you to recognize cases with much less "information" coming at your visual processing system. Whenever I do this and then switch back to a fitted/full-fitted/stickerless cube, I feel like my lookahead has greatly improved (it's much easier for me to just barely catch a glimpse of a single edge sticker but still know what it is)
 

Fear

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
51
That's really a good and interesting idea but, for me at least, they'd have to be the same shades. I can't get used to stickerless cubes and I think that working with other cubes (stickerless) actually makes me less sure of myself and then I hesitate when I go back to a normal cube stickered with the fullbrights I prefer.

I need to get better with stickerless cubes. But I digress. That's an interesting idea.
 
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