Improving speed is something each speedcuber strives for. There are two very important factors that come into improving - turn speed and lookahead. While it is easier to focus on turning faster, lookahead is often ignored. However, as Aryan Chhabra compares Lookahead Or Turning Speed in his blog , improving requires a balance between both lookahead and turn speed.
This blog focuses on how to improve your lookahead and a few techniques and practices to help you do so.
What is Lookahead?
Lookahead is the art of looking at multiple pieces while solving your current one, to cut down on time spent looking for pieces. This helps reduce the buffer times in your solves so that most of the time is spent actually solving.
There are simple practices that can be applied to improve your lookahead. They are listed below:
1. Untimed Solves
This is arguably the best technique to improve your lookahead. Untimed solves, as the name suggests are solves done without a timer. They enable you to focus on improving aspects such as your lookahead, F2L solutions, etc. The goal of an untimed solve is simply to learn to be as efficient as possible. The technique is quite simple - simply put down your timer and solve. However, a focus area for each solve is essential since mindless solving is not helpful. Your focus area may be different for different solves - efficient F2L solutions for one solve, fluidity for the other. The slow turning during untimed solves removes the pressure of the fast-moving pieces and opens up room for fluidity. As a variation, you may also try turning without pausing. This forces you to look at other pieces and helps improve your lookahead tremendously.
2. Metronome Practice
Another great approach to building fluidity and training yourself to look ahead is using a metronome. A metronome is a device that displays a certain number of beats per minute, and this number is adjustable. As a cuber, synchronizing your turning with the beats of the metronome, without missing any beat can prove very beneficial. This helps take your mind off turning itself and allows you to focus on the other pieces around the cube.
3. Big Cubes
Solving big cubes (higher order NxNs) can also help improve lookahead. The fundamentals of big cubes are based on the 3x3 itself, and so most of the same techniques apply. Because of the larger number of pieces that you must solve, big cubes make it much easier to transfer higher-order cubing skills to the 3x3. As you improve on big cubes, you automatically improve on 3x3. Solving big cubes makes improving more fun as well, allowing you to apply your skills to a variety of puzzles and increasing options for practice.
An important step is identifying your level of lookahead and improving from there. There are certain stages that you can be in. Here is guidance for how to improve on each stage.
- Get comfortable with your f2l methods. Try practicing as much as possible until intuitive f2l is eased into your muscle memory. Build confidence with your solving methods and try to do current pairs by closing your eyes. Example: Spot a pair, close your eyes and solve the pair without looking.
- Once you’re comfortable with F2L, you should be able to solve most of your pairs without looking at them. This frees you up to now look at other things while solving. You may now start tracking a few pieces around the cube while solving your current pair. Find the pieces for two different pairs. Solve the first one, but keep your eyes on the pieces of the second one. Once you’re done with your first pair, you can dive into the second one without any pauses. Doing this eliminates the time spent looking for pieces for the next pair. Do the same thing with the next pairs too - find and track another pair while solving the current one, until all your pairs are solved.
- The next stage is to be able to solve two F2L pairs without looking. As your level of lookahead increases, it gets easier to get to this stage. To reach this level, you need to be comfortable with the cube enough that you can visualize it in your head. This method is a kind of upgrade to the one listed before. Before solving pairs, you can try but first, imagine where both the pairs will end up and then solve them. This does not make sense for very complex pairs but can be very powerful when used with simpler pairs that are easy to solve.
These are simple techniques that can help you improve your lookahead and take your cubing skills to the next level. You may also talk to one of cubelelo's coaches to help identify specific practices needed according to your solving style, making it much easier to improve. Happy cubing!
Avani Sood from Bengaluru has won 12 female national records overall and has been competing for the past 4 years. She started cubing when she was 11. Her main event is Megaminx. Apart from cubing, she loves to cook and read. She has participated in 10 competitions and won 1 podium.