Cross Training

It’s time to come clean: My cross skills suck.

It’s been 14 months since I wrote about more advanced cross techniques, which is only slightly less long than I’ve been at this cubing thing altogether. At the time, I was thrilled just to move on from the beginner’s method of forming a daisy on top. Memorizing the cube’s color scheme seemed like an accomplishment.

A year-plus later, I’m stuck at around 35 seconds. I’ve learned all 21 PLLs, have gotten pretty fast at two-look OLL (with a handful of OLLs one-lookable), and am competent with F2L (fast, but with lots of hunting still). But my crosses are still really clunky. Time to start focusing on the cross.

To set a benchmark, I did 5 Ao12s of just crosses. I spread out the sessions to make sure they were pretty accurate representations. Although there are a few stray bests, the 60-cross average was 6.75:

Session Best Time Worst Time Avg5 Avg5 SD Avg12 Avg12 SD
A 4.45 8.32 5.94 0.91 6.88 0.94
B 3.3 11.74 5.61 1.64 6.49 1.91
C 3.8 9.83 6.72 0.36 7.2 1.46
D 3.29 10.88 6.19 0.65 6.76 1.34
E 4.96 11.76 6.09 1.02 6.42 1.23
AVG 3.96 10.51 6.11 0.92 6.75 1.38


To put these numbers in perspective, Mats Valk set the 3×3 world record a few weeks ago with a 5.55 solve (21% faster than my cross average).

I’ve been doing (untimed) complete solves a lot lately, without focusing on particular aspects. That’s in stark contrast to how I learned OLLs and PLLs, where I would drill each new algorithm over and over until it became auto-mechanical muscle memory. The cross is more fluid and dynamic; it requires a lot more strategy and planning and adapting than just recognizing a pattern and applying something rote. But I do think it’s something that can dramatically improve with direct focus and practice.

There are a handful of good cross videos out there, ranging from Badmephisto’s seminal introduction to Crazybadcuber’s cross examples to Cyoubx’s cross walk-throughs. I’m going to re-watch these (and probably other videos discovered along the way), practice for a month or so, and then come back and do a new 5-Ao12 average to compare. My guess is that my best times will stay about the same but that my averages will come down by about 30%. We’ll see....


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