Going to your first WCA competition soon? Or are you a cuber who has been to competitions but couldn’t get the same times you get at home in competitions? Well then, this blog is the answer you’ve been looking for! Here, we will discuss techniques and ways to help you get more consistent times in competitions, collated from my experience of competing in well over 30 competitions!
1. Set a Routine
My first tip is to set a ritual or a routine you do before every solve. You should also integrate this routine while practicing at home. This routine can help your mind switch to a more comfortable territory and be less nervous. The exercise can be as simple as a deep breath before your solve or doing a few PLLs before your actual solve. According to the WCA regulation A3b1, you have one minute before the start of each attempt, so use that to your advantage.
2. Practice with scrambles/do not hand scramble
When seriously practicing, you must always ensure you use scrambles given by a timer. This is because hand scrambles tend to have unconscious biases due to cubers having a habit as to how they scramble the cube. This comes from personal experience, after I encountered the same scramble multiple times, to the point which I knew the solution by heart.
Practicing with a generated scramble will remove those biases and yield much better and consistent results which can be expected in competitions. This also simulates scrambles closer to what you will receive in an actual competition which brings us to point 3…
3. Comp-style simulation
This is a very big part that most cubers do not implement into their practices. Simulating exactly how a competition can be, along with the 15 seconds of inspection and lifting of the cube cover gives you a sense of unfamiliarity and can drastically change your solve times. I specifically use this method to practice for Skewb because of how important those 15 seconds of inspection are. I highly recommend this method for smaller events like 2x2, Pyraminx, 3x3, and Skewb, its importance isn’t as much in lengthier events but is still a good way to practice.
4. Personal Bests (PBs) and Personal Records (PRs)
PBs and PRs are two completely different things, often influencing the other quite closely but are also very difficult things to achieve. Your goal at competition shouldn’t be to get your PB average in the competition since that will put a lot of pressure and add unnecessary nerves to your solves. One extreme that I have adopted, is not keeping track of my PBs as closely as I have in the past, and only looking at my latest Ao100 or appropriate average as the times I solve at, and hope to get something similar in a competition. This has helped me with not getting as nervous and getting better results in competitions, whereas if I were to try and beat my PB average every time I compete, it would cause a lot of stress instead of enjoyment.
5. Last but not least, have fun!
This is the best advice I can give any first-timer coming to competitions. The main goal of these competitions is to have fun first and foremost before the competition. It is a place you can meet many people you only hear of online and can talk about cubing with people who have the same interest as you, make new friends and just enjoy the sounds of cubes being solved. The expectation for results is natural, but do not forget that the best part of cubing is the community, and the fun you have while solving the cube! Don’t get too wrapped up in doing well, and have fun while you’re there!
Chetan Roger Dhanjal
Chetan Roger Dhanjal is the current Skewb (average) National record holder and the only Indian to break the sub-3 barrier in Skewb from Manipal. He started his cubing journey when he was 13 and has been competing for the past 8 years. Other than cubing, Chetan also spends his time gaming, playing football and chess, and working on projects. He has participated in 34 competitions and won 88 podiums with 46 gold medals, 1 Continental record, and 3 National records.