Nine speed cube tips you need to know to get quick times!

By Katie Boland / August 6, 2020

With the Netflix documentary Speed Cuber hitting the small screen on July 29 there is no doubt a lot of people are wondering, just how are they able to complete a Rubik’s cube that quickly? Lucky for us, it’s quite easy to solve a Rubik’s cube as it is just a memory game. It will take time though! Here are some of the tips I used to get an average of thirty seconds per solve on my speed cube that should help you! 

If you’re completely new to solving a cube you should watch this video.  It will help you learn all the basics and set you up with a good reference point on how to hold the cube and how it moves. With that in mind, let’s move onto the first tip! 

Hardware

The first thing you need to look at is the speed cube itself. For anyone that is looking to solve the cube in under a minute, you need to invest in a good cube. The original Rubik’s cube, unfortunately, doesn’t have the strength in the hinges to allow for finger tricks or fast movement. The good thing is that buying a speed cube is relatively cheap. A website I like to use is The Cubicle. They always have affordable cubes and have sales on. It’s best to do a bit of research before buying the cube. Make sure to look at reviews. Some could turn too quickly for you and would cause you to lose control, or some might be too gritty. This will make sure your cube is best suited to you.

Learning the colours and positions

These tips might seem obvious but is more important than you realise when you are learning how to speed cube. Everyone knows that there are six sides to each cube. Sometimes the colours might change with preference but the standard is green, red, blue, orange, yellow, and white. Learning where the colours are and what ones are opposite is vital so you don’t need to move the cube more than necessary. For instance, if you are holding the cube with green facing you and yellow on top you can’t see the other colours. Knowing blue is going to be across from green and white across from yellow will make it easier to slot the cubes in place without moving the cube too much. Once you have all the colours down, it’s time for the first step!

Fast cross completion

Speed cube cross

This is one of the most critical tips if you want to get a fast time. You should start with the colour of your choice – mine is always white – and make a cross on your speed cube. This step should take a maximum of six-ten seconds to complete. The best way to get this time is to turn the cube so the cross is bottom facing. Take ten seconds to find all four pieces of the cross and where they are placed. When you find them, look at the most efficient way to get them into their correct positions. Time yourself completing the cross again and again until you reach at least ten seconds. Once you have that down it’s onto completing the first two layers.

First two layers

Speed cube f2l

This is where memorising the colours and their opposites on your speed cube tips come into play. After you get used to the colours and the positions of them this step should be easy. It takes a corner piece and the middle piece puts them together at the top of the speed cube and then slots them into place. It should take 15 seconds to get them grouped together and into place. There are 41 different positions that the cubes can be in. This is where it’s really important to know how the cube moves. There are certain algorithms for each case but they’re not typically needed once you know how the cube moves and know the beginner’s method. This is the easiest step in the whole solving of the cube and shaves a lot of time from the solve by combining the two steps you would usually use in the beginner’s method. The next step is the most difficult and involves a lot more work but first, a good thing to do is learn the notations.

Notations

Speed Cube notations

Solving a speed cube involves turning different parts. These are called faces and each face has a different name. The direction that face goes is determined by either the presence or absence of a prime symbol (‘).

Left face: L

Right face: R

Upward-pointing face: U

Downward-pointing face: D

Front face: F

Back face: B

 L= turn the left side towards you

L’= turn the left side away from you

R= turn the right side away from you

R’=turn the right side towards you

U=turn the top towards the left

U’=turn the top towards the right

D=turn the bottom towards the right

D’=turn the bottom towards the left

F=turn the front towards the left

F’=turn the front towards the right

B=turn the back towards the right

B’=turn the back towards the left

A good tip to remember with these notations is that L and R, U and D, F and B are always opposite in their turning. For example, an L notation turns towards you while an R notation is turned away from you. It does take a bit to learn them but once you do it will help in the last layer.

Last layer- OLL

Speed Cube Last Layer

This is the most difficult part. You have to try and complete the last layer without mixing up the already completed layers. There are a few different ways you can solve the last layer. The Fridrich Method is one of the most popular methods. This is one a lot of speedcubers in the documentary use. It goes by the name CFOP which means Cross, First 2 layers, OLL and PLL.

OLL is short for orientating the last layer which means getting the top of the last layer the same colour while the sides aren’t in place. To do this you need to learn 57 different algorithms. Two tips I would have would is to focus on learning one or two every day on the speed cube so that you’re not overwhelmed and write down the notations to remember them better. 

 Knowing the notations is useful here. Notations are a must when speedcubing.

Last layer- PLL

Last Layer

Don’t let this picture discourage you! This is an example of one of the PLL algorithms. PLL stands for permutation of the last layer which is essentially fixing all of the side pieces. There are 21 different algorithms. You complete OLL and PLL together in two smooth moves. This layer will take four-five seconds when all of these are learnt off. It is the memorising that is the toughest part. Once you have completed this the cube is complete! Now onto the important things you need to practice while also learning the CFOP method.

Finger tricks

Doing finger tricks on the cube is a sure way to get the quick time you want. There are countless YouTube videos on this but my tip would be to learn the algorithms you need for the cube and the finger tricks should come organically. You will need to be able to move your pinkie finger at the same time as your pointer finger and thumb. It feels awkward the first few times but once you get used to it, it will cut down the solve time by a few seconds for you.

Practice

The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is always true, especially in cubing. If you want to learn all of this and get a good time, you need to practice. Another tip is to download a cube timer app on your phone – there’s a lot to choose from on the app store – and start timing yourself. You should see an improvement the more you do it. I was able to cut my time from 46 seconds to 28 seconds in just over a month of practising.

Of course, this is just one way to get faster at the cube. There are many other methods out there that might work better for you. Check out this list of all the different methods that might work better for you. Happy cubing!

To see more of what’s streaming on Netflix be sure the check out this article

 

 

 

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Katie Boland

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