So you've found a competition that you'll be able to attend. But what do you do now? This page is meant to help you have an enjoyable competition experience. While all competitions vary, these are simply general guidelines.
1. Be familiar with the WCA regulations
The World Cube Association (WCA) is the governing body of competitive speedcubing, much like how the NBA is the governing body of basketball. The WCA Regulations are the rules that are followed by the competitors during a competition. It's not necessary to know all the rules by heart, but reading over them is helpful. We'll try to emphasize the most important later.
Many competitions have an online form you can use to register. By registering in advance, you help the organizer to know what kind of turnout to expect and to be able to get things ready in advance. Register when 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 organizer and ask them to make the changes. Also, registering allows the organizer to contact you with updates if needed (for example, weather related updates).
Sure, you may have learned all your OLL's and PLL's, but have you practiced solving in front of people? Many first time competitors are nervous about solving at a competition. Try solving in front of friends and 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 also. Just relax and try to get some times that are good for yourself.
4. Get your puzzles ready
If your stickers are peeling slightly, you probably don't need to replace them. But if the stickers on your cube are really trashed, you may want to consider getting replacement stickers from Cubesmith. These stickers hold up really well to speedcubing.
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 tips, see some cool puzzles, and watch other speedcubers. You will want to 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. Make sure you know what your competition will be doing and have cash if you need to buy your own lunch.
6. Check in at the competition
If you've registered beforehand, this process may be as simple as giving your name. Some competitions will have a registration fee. This is usually based on the number of events you enter. The fee (if any) will be on the competition website. Since you know what events you'll be competiting in, try to bring your exact registration fee in cash. While not required, it'll help out the organizers if they don't have to spend time making change.
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 worry. If you name still hasn't been called when they do a final call for competitors, then go and ask them.
8. When called, bring your cube up to the judge
When your name is called, you will need to bring your solved puzzle to the designated area. You will be told to sit in an area waiting to be called. You are now very close to competing. Do not wander off!
9. When called, go to the station
You will then perform your solve. More details on this can be found at Completing your solve.
10. After you have solved, sit back down
In a round, you will solve you puzzle 5 times (3 times for certain puzzles). So once you've completed a solve, sit back down and wait to be called again. Do not take your cube when you sit. The judge will take it to have it scrambled again.
In a combined final, you may not do all fives solves. If you don't achieve a certain time in the first one or two solves, you may be done. Your solves will still be listed in the WCA database, but you won't finish an average of 5.
11. After all your solves, go back to the audience
Once you have completed all 5 solves, you are done for that round. Take your puzzle and go sit down.
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 also. Just relax and enjoy the competition.