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
World Cube Association (WCA) is the governing body of competitive speedcubing. 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. Just relax and try to get some times that are good for yourself.
4. Get your puzzles ready
Make sure your puzzles are competition legal and comply with all the regulations regarding puzzles. The stickers shouldn't be overly worn out and none should be missing. In case they are, you could buy new ones at any cube store.
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
Participants are called to solve in groups, so don't worry if your name isn't called for an event in which you registered. Just wait until your group is called and if it is not, you can contact the organisers when the round is about to finish.
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. Go to the solving station as and when instructed
The runners will call you to your solving station once your puzzle is scrambled. You will then perform your solve. More details on this can be found at Completing your solve.
10. After you have solved, go back to the waiting area
In a round, you will solve your puzzle 5 times (3 times for certain puzzles). So once you've completed a solve, go back to the waiting area and wait to be called again. Do not take your cube when you go back as it will be taken to be scrambled for the next scramble. In a combined round, you may not do all five solves. If you don't achieve a certain qualifying time in the first one or two solves, you may not be given the rest of the solves. Your solves will still be listed in the WCA database, but you won't finish an average.
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 too. Just relax and enjoy the competition.