SpeedCubing in a broad sense is the sport where one has to solve a Rubik’s Cube in the least time possible. Naturally, in the case of any sporting event, whose outcome depends on time, one has to keep in mind several factors, like speed, efficiency, how to perform under pressure, etc. These are the same in the case of SpeedCubing as well. Combining all these factors differentiates an advanced SpeedCuber from a beginner.
From my interactions with SpeedCubers across India, I came across certain traits/ skills that these advanced SpeedCubers exhibit that separates them from the rest of the group. To be clear, I try to classify Advanced SpeedCubers are those who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under 15 seconds, as it is under this time frame that the one or more of these traits/ features that I’m gonna talk about is very much evident.
Every SpeedCuber starts by learning the beginner’s method. The exact format might change, but in a broad sense, it is Cross, corners, the second layer, followed by the last layer. While starting off, an average person might take 1-2 mins to solve a Rubik’s cube using this method, and it can widely change depending upon the cube that they use and finger tricks if any. A form of the Advanced method, famously used by many, is called the CFOP (AKA Fridrich method), which contains the Cross, F2L, OLL followed by PLL. It is obvious that, with sufficient practice, CFOP will result in better times compared to the beginner’s method. Hence, in my considerations, both Advanced and a Beginner SpeedCuber use CFOP.
Specific Characteristics of an Advanced Speedcuber:
The First, most evident characteristic that an Advanced SpeedCuber should have is good and efficient finger tricks. This includes a high enough TPS that is required, as well as efficient turning (no lockups and regrips). This definitely helps to speed up the solve, and even if one is prone to do more turns than required, a good turning style and high enough TPS will definitely help to bring the times down significantly.
Secondly, is the Efficiency of their solution. Advanced Cubers always use far fewer moves to complete a solve compared to a beginner. Where this is most evident is in their execution of the Cross and F2L. F2L takes a major portion of every solve. Thus, if we try to make this stage of the solve really fast, it drastically improves our times. For this, most advanced cubers generally have multiple ways to solve every F2L case, and with practice, they figure out the best possible solutions for each of the F2L cases, for various conditions.
Thirdly, and the most popular one, in my opinion, is Look ahead. The concept of look-ahead is pretty simple, let’s say while solving one F2L pair, we need to not focus on that pair, rather start looking for the next pair to be solved. This is, in my opinion, by far the most difficult skill to master, and the most important as well. TPS and look ahead go hand in hand. It might be easier for someone to have very low TPS while having a very good look ahead. For many, even some advanced cubers, it is always a trade-off between TPS and Look ahead. Having both high TPS and a good look ahead is where the real challenge lies, and anyone who can really figure this out and use this to a maximum extent, well, should definitely be in one of the top positions!
Furthermore, other than the actual skills possessed by the SpeedCuber, their hardware along with the accessories also plays a very important role. The technology in designing really good speed cubes is increasing rapidly these days, and there are different types of speed cubes suited for different speedcubers. Some might like a really fast turning cube, some might like a more stable turning cube, etc. Hence, it is crucial that each and every speedcuber have a cube that is personalized to them, that complements their turning style as well.
The Mindset of Advanced SpeedCubers:
Another overlooked aspect is the mindset of the cuber from the beginning. In my opinion, mindset plays a very important role in helping a cuber develop his times and make him faster. What I mean by mindset is the following: The ability to constantly look for any mistakes/ scopes for improvement, while solving, officially or at home, and come up with solutions on how to rectify them, and improve their overall skill. This is one thing that all advanced cubers, inherently or forcefully have in them. They definitely do a lot of non - analysing solves, but they also do spend time to find where they can improve. Once a certain level of expertise is attained, there aren’t many websites/ youtube videos that they can refer to, rather they themselves have to reflect on their own solves, and look for possible means of improvement.
These are, in a broad sense, the most important skills that every advanced SpeedCuber has. Although, the extent to which they have mastered each of these skills might differ significantly. Every SpeedCuber, belonging to any time range, can try to improve each of these skills. By focussing on one of these at a time, it is definitely possible to master them, and in no time, become a really advanced SpeedCuber, with times of around 15 secs, or even better, a sub 10!