Quick Definition: The combination of routines that can be used interchangeably and “stacked” together during an interaction.
Comedians do this very well. They start out with a joke on theme and, throughout the performance, bring up subtle references to a previous theme and story. (See Dave Chappelle’s video below for his Rick James Bitch theme.)
It is important for PUAs to sometimes stack routines, to increase attraction or to bring up the energy of a group or target after some time of normal conversation. By stacking routines, the PUA can increase his DHV opportunities and opportunities to “hook,” assuming he has not done so yet.
Routine stacking is one of THE most important things you can do to improve your game. Unless you have extraordinary natural ability, not committing to a routine stack is extremely counterproductive. In this article we’ll take a closer look at not only why stacking is so important, but how to actually sit down and create your own stack. We’ll identify the structure and major components, show how to deal with contingencies, and talk about some of the subtleties that will make the difference between success and failure (or as we like to say, “learning”).
As its name implies, routine stacking is the combining of multiple routines (“stacking”) one atop another until you’ve created a 5-15 minute script you can use to automate your approaches. It’s by far one of the most important skills to have in the beginner or intermediate levels of pickup. Even if you’re advanced or naturally skilled, a routine stack is something that will always benefit you. It’s like wearing a helmet on a motorcycle. Even if you’re the best rider in the world, there are times when a helmet will save your ass.
There are a few key reasons why stacking is so important to your overall development.
The first is that it solves 90% of approach anxiety (AA). Whether or not you subscribe to the evolutionary theory behind AA, nearly everyone will agree that being prepared alleviates a significant amount of anxiety in any activity. If you think about an activity you’re confident at and have little anxiety towards, chances are, that activity is something you’re good at or something in which you have significant experience or preparation doing. For example, experience level aside, public speaking is most anxiety-inducing when we are unprepared. Talking about something we are unfamiliar with and are worried about will always generate more anxiety than talking about a subject with which we are intimately familiar. Routine stacking, then, fixes this by automating your verbals. The first objection most newbies give when being sent into set is “what do I say?” This is their intuition telling them that going into a situation without a game plan is suicide. But having this accounted for instantly alleviates this concern. While it does not always eliminate approach anxiety, it severely reduces its symptoms. Stacking is akin to a presidential State of the Union speech being prepared in advance by speechwriters. The best public speakers, while surely possessing great improvisational abilities, still rehearse and prepare their speeches in advance. If these professionals are routine stacking, why aren’t you?
Another key point to stacking is its affect on your subcommunication. The majority of communication takes place on a non-verbal level. Why are we focusing on verbals then? Because the human mind is generally only capable of focusing on one thing at a time during stressful moments. Put differently, if you’re constantly thinking about what to say next, you won’t be able to consciously fix your subcommunication and body language ticks. So the biggest things that will blow you out (pecking, leaning in, not locking in, tonality, apologetic body language, etc.) will continue to blow you out because you won’t be able to fix them. But when you have a routine stack “in the can” (meaning memorized and naturalized), you’ll be able to focus on body language and the critical subcommunication that will make or break your set. Your learning curve will significantly improve by being able to consciously fix your body language and nonverbal while in field.
In the same manner, stacking also allows you to keep on the right track when you have not developed the field intuition to naturally follow the correct course towards escalation. Think of your stack as a map to your destination. If you know the terrain well you can get around without a map. You’ll take the correct roads to get to your destination. But if you are unfamiliar with the area, navigating without a map means going around in circles and difficulty moving in the right direction. For example, a common sticking point among new students is not knowing what comes next. Because they’re focusing on what to say, it becomes impossible for them to step back and figure out what the next phase of the interaction is. They get distracted by the current conversational threads and are unable to lead or steer the conversation in the correct direction towards escalation. So they stagnate and stay in attraction too long and never move the interaction forward. Like the terrain of a specific environment, the model of social interaction remains the same. You must move sequentially through the phases of the model in order to escalate the interaction towards the desired outcome. Failure to do this will get you blown out.
Finally, the key distinction between an experienced pickup artist and a newbie is extremely simple: time in field. The difference between Mehow, Mystery, or any of the gurus, and a new student, isn’t height or looks or even clothing. It’s thousands of sets under their belt. And raw experience does one major thing for you: it allows you to see patterns in human interaction. It allows you to, like the champion chess player, anticipate moves five steps ahead so that you are always prepared. Stacking accelerates this process by eliminating variables. The fastest way to systematically solve a problem is to isolate and remove variables. The more variables you eliminate, the more control you have over the process, and thus the “tighter” your game becomes. By routine stacking, you eliminate the verbal variable of your game. So when something goes wrong, you don’t have to worry about it being due to poor content. Because you already know the content is valid, you can then deduce that the problem exists somewhere else—likely, in delivery and subcommunication. Eliminate enough of these other variables and you end up with consistent and reliable results.
These principles and concepts are obviously not unique to any one method or school of thought. No matter if you follow Mystery, Juggler, RSD, PU101, or any of the other systems, stacking will exponentially accelerate your learning curve due to the aforementioned advantages.