So you've got a Rubik's cube, and you've either learned how to solve it, or want to learn. Speedcubing is a great hobby for anyone, it is challenging, interesting, and the great thing about it is that you can literally take a cube anywhere you like and it will be a constant source of entertainment. It can be pretty addicting though - don't say I didn’t warn you. And despite what you may think, it’s a very accessible hobby as well, you don’t have to be a genius to be able to solve the cube, you just need good instruction, patience, and practice.
Learning and improvement
A great place to start is the beginner tutorial from badmephisto. Many beginner tutorials on the internet are outdated, or teach bad/inefficient methods, but badmephisto’s approach is great, and allows for an easier transition to more advanced solving methods.
Once you've learned a beginners method and practiced that for a while, it's time to move onto more advanced techniques. For most people, this would be after a month or so of cubing, but don't limit yourself by any means, and don't feel like you need to progress quickly either. The speedcubing method used by the vast majority of top cubers is known as CFOP, or the Fridrich method. There are other speedcubing methods such as Roux, Petrus, and ZZ, which I would encourage people to research, if nothing but to get a better understanding of the cube and how pieces move about.
For the sake of consistency, I'd recommend learning CFOP from badmephisto’s tutorials as well. Learning F2L can often be a big obstacle for new cubers, and people often have the tendency to revert to layer by layer solving because F2L is initially slower. But within a week or two your times will fall below what they were originally. His video, how to become a speedcuber, is an excellent overview of the learning process:
Many beginners often worry a lot about what brand and model of cube to use, but when you’re starting out, different hardware probably won’t affect your times very much. Most speedcubes now are excellent, and the decision to use one cube over another mainly comes down to personal preference for the feel of the cube.
Beginners can very easily get away with using a YJ Guanlong, or any of the other cheaper cubes on the market. Once you progress and get faster, you might want to look into other cubes and figure out your favourite. At the moment, the most-used cubes are probably the Gans 356, Moyu Aolong v2, and the Qiyi thunderclap.
After you’re comfortable with the 3x3, you can also look into learning how to solve other puzzles, which can be a lot of fun, and adds some variety to the hobby. After the 3x3, the next step is probably to get yourself a 2x2 and a 4x4, and perhaps some other puzzles such as the pyraminx and skewb.
That being said, there are a ridiculous amount of other cubes and puzzles to try, so don’t limit yourself by any means.
At some point you’ll probably want to start using a Rubik’s cube timer. The one I use, which provides scrambles and statistics, is called qqTimer.
There are plenty of timers out there though, and you’ll probably land on a favourite eventually. For mobile devices, I use jjTimer, which is for android.
The speedsolving.com website and forum is the main hub for western and English-speaking speedcubers. There you’ll find a myriad of information and discussion, as well as on the speedsolving wiki, another excellent resource
The World Cube Association is the governing body for all Rubik’s cube competitions worldwide. New competitions are announced every day, so it’s a good idea to regularly check the website for upcoming competitions in your local area, or to check the website of your national organisation, if one exists.
I would urge anyone to go to a competition as soon as you can, even if you’re new to the hobby. New competitors are welcomed at all competitions, and it allows you to get your times officially recorded and recognised. It doesn’t matter at all what times you get – only a few people are ever in the running to actually win a WCA competition, the majority of competitors are simply there for the experience, and to try and beat their personal best times.
Competitions are also a great way to learn techniques, and share information. These days, competitions are just about the only place where I actually learn new things about the cube, just by comparing my solving approach to others – because everyone solves the cube differently, and has different habits.
Speedcubing is awesome, competitions are a great way to share this hobby, and everyone is there to just have fun.