Competition instruction - how to be a competitor
You've found a competition that you'll be able to attend (the list of competitions, as well as more detailed related information, can be found directly on the WCA website). But what do you do now? This page is meant to help you to have an enjoyable competition experience. While all competitions vary, these are simply invariable general guidelines.
1. Be familiar with the WCA regulations
The WCA (World Cubing Association) is the governing body of competitive speedsolving, similarly to how the NBA is the governing body of basketball. The WCA regulations are the rules that are followed by the competitors during a whole competition. It's not necessary to know all the rules by heart, but reading through them is helpful. The most important ones will be emphasized in the text below.
2. Register in advance
Many competitions have an online form you can use to pre-register. By registering in advance you help the organizer to know what kind of turnout to expect, thus be able to get things ready in advance. Pre-register if you know you're going to the competition, don't wait until the last minute. If you want to change your registration, simply contact the organizers and ask them to make the changes. Also, registering in advance allows the organizer to contact you with updates if needed (weather related updates, for example).
Sure, you may have learned all your OLL and PLL algorithms. But have you practiced solving in front of people? Many first-time competitors are nervous about solving in front of people at a competition. Try solving in front of friends, family members or in public places. You may still be nervous at a competition, but don't worry. Every competitor there has had to start out at some point. Just relax and try to enjoy it.
4. Get your puzzles ready
If your stickers are peeling slightly, you probably won't need to replace them. But if the stickers on your puzzle are really trashed, you may want to consider replacing them.
5. Plan your day
You'll probably want to spend most of your time at the competition. In between competing, you can hang out with other cubers and learn some great tricks, see some cool puzzles, and watch other speedcubers. Make sure you have a plan for lunch. Some competitions provide lunch to competitors, while others may simply have a break and let competitors find their own lunch. Figure out how your competition will take place and have cash in case you need to buy your own lunch.
6. Check in at the competition
If you've registered beforehand, checking in may be a piece of cake. Some competitions will have a registration fee. This is usually based on the number of events you will compete in. The fee (if any) will be mentioned on the competition website. Since you know what events you'll be competing in, try to bring your exact registration fee in cash. While not required, it'll help out the organizers to find out whether they need to spend time making changes.
7. Wait for your name to be called
Even though you've signed up for the 3x3x3 event, competitors will usually be competing in groups. So even if a list of names is called and your name isn't one of them, don't panic (because a list of only one group could have been called, while your name has been put into another group of competitors). If your name still hasn't been called when organizers do a final call for competitors, go and ask them where's the problem.
8. When called, bring your puzzle up to the judges
When your name is called, bring your solved puzzle to the designated area. You will be told to sit down in a "waiting-room", waiting to be called. You are now very close to competing. Do not wander off anywhere!
9. When called, go to the station
Then perform your solve. More details on this can be found at the completing your solving attempt instruction.
10. After you have solved, sit back down
You will solve your puzzle 5 times (3 times for certain events) in a round. So once you've completed a solve, sit back down (in a "waiting-room") and wait to be called again. Do not take your puzzle when you're going to sit down. The judge will take it to have it scrambled again.
In a combined final, you may not do all five solves. If you don't achieve a certain time in the first one or two solves, you may be done. Your solves will be listed in the WCA database, but you won't finish an average solve format.
11. After all your solves, go back to the audience
Once you have completed all 5 attempts, you are done for that round. Take your puzzle and go sit down (in the audience area).
12. Have fun!
This isn't the SAT or open-heart surgery. You're there to have a fun time, everyone else is there to have a fun time, too. Just relax and enjoy the competition.