Tips for knowing how to go in quick or slow on all numbers.
More Stedman is lost through errors on the front than anywhere else - which just proves how vital it is to know exactly what is going on! Only 2 or 3 changes can throw a whole touch - but someone fluffing through Cambridge places the wrong way can be accommodated for most of a lead, giving time for the stray to be brought back onto the line. (Who remembers Wilfrid Wilson's habit of messing up Stedman just so he could put it right again?!)
So, it is best to know whether you are going in quick or slow, by remembering which way you came out, and go in opposite way, unless you were dodging behind at an odd number of bobs.
The foot method
If your right foot is in front of your left, go in quick; don't forget to change your feet over when you leave the front and every time you are caught by a bob at the back.
The 4-5 rule
When arriving in 4-5 down, the very first blow in 4ths is after the bell that you will take off lead when you get to the front. If there's a bit of a mess that row, you might confirm who it was because you will strike over the other 2 bells in the frontwork once each before meeting that bell again. If you first blow in thirds is over the same bell, make thirds and go in slow, otherwise go in quick.
The just-in-time rule
This relies on your good rope handling, and the bells on the front being spot on. It should only really be used as a last resort!
On leaving 4-5 down and striking your first blow in thirds, follow one bell then the other below you. Are you now in seconds place? Then you are quick bell. If not, you made a second blow in thirds, and commence your slow work. This works because the two bells below you either part to let you through if it is a quick six, or swap if it is a slow six.
Watch your course bell
When dodging up at the back you are with your course bell. Follow them down to the front and go in the opposite way to them. If there is a bob while you are dodging down, then your course bell will be the one making the last bob under you.
Helping others go in the right way
If you have just come off the front, it is worth knowing that the bell that you dodge with in 4-5 should go in the same way as you came out, so you can remind your dodging partner if he/she seems to have gone in the wrong way. Conversely, if you are unsure coming down into 4-5, ask the bell you dodge with which way they came out, and go in the same way.
Watch the leading
Stedman frontwork is rung in groups of six changes. Alternate groups are rung 'slow' and 'quick'. In slow sixes the bells lead wrong (ie. Back then Hand) and in quick sixes they lead right i.e. hand then back. When dodging 4/5 Down note which way the bells on the front are leading. If they are leading wrong it is slow six and the next six will be a quick, so you go in quick. If they are leading right it is quick six and the next six will be a slow, so you go in slow.
Hear the leading
A variation on "Watching the leading" is to listen. As you arrive in 7-6 if the same bell is doing the hand/back lead then it is a quick six which means you are quick bell. If in 5-4 the same bell is doing the hand/back lead then it is again a quick six which means you are slow bell.
Alternate the sixes
If you constantly say to yourself quick and slow every time you change dodging positions, and learn where the six ends are in the slow, you will know not only whether you should be going in quick or slow, but everybody else too. This is excellent practice for conducting, and you will be able to spot whether others have gone in the wrong way, and help them out.
All of the above
Like any tips, the more you know and put into practice, the more reliable a ringer you will be.