Your stamina gauge will actually drain at half speed when it is less than 1/4 full, but it refills at a constant rate. Therefore, when sprinting over long distances, it is most efficient to sprint until just before you run out of stamina (fourth fast beep), and then let it refill only to 1/4 full before sprinting again.
Your Stamina Gauge will also refill at half speed while holding ZL (either targeting or not) or when you have your sword out. If you need to refill your stamina, you should release ZL and put away your sword; this can be difficult during a fight, so be cautious.
Rolling speed is slightly faster than sprinting, and rolling will always be max speed. So if you have a short distance to go, it will be faster to roll continuously. Even if you have to travel a longer distance, it is generally fastest to start with a roll and then sprint. This is a little faster than normally sprinting from rest, but shortens the distance the sprint will go.
Alternatively, you can extend the distance of Link's stamina from rest by walking for 24 frames before sprinting. This the same speed as starting to sprint from the start, but does not consume stamina.
Link can do a full roll even when he has only a sliver of stamina remaining. This can be very useful for extending the distance of the stamina to reach a stamina fruit, bird statue, or cutscene. Generally, it is not faster to roll into a loading zone (see Loading Zones below).
The fastest way to START sprinting is to roll, but if you're in a small space or don't have enough stamina left to roll, move while ZL-targeting for a moment, then let go and continue moving. These are both faster than simply sprinting normally from the start.
When indoors in Skyloft (someone's house, the Bazaar, or the Knight Academy), sprinting speed is reduced, though rolling speed is not. As such, rolling is much faster than sprinting when indoors, so continuously roll when indoors.
It is fastest to enter crawlspaces with a roll, and in some cases a well-timed roll can take Link all the way through the crawlspace to the other side.
When in crawlspaces, moving with no stamina is the same speed as moving normally, so depleting all your stamina in crawlspaces is actually fastest.
When entering double doors, the left door is faster, as the animation for entering it is shorter than the right door.
Almost all cutscenes will instantly refill your Stamina Gauge. This includes:
However, Fi texts (purple text boxes) and item texts (white text boxes) do not refill stamina.
In addition, cutscenes will not refill your stamina if Link is in a "no refill" state. This can sometimes occur in places where stamina will not refill on its own. Such places that cause this include:
If you use a manual jump into sand (by holding ZL and pressing A), you can conserve your stamina for running across the sand. Although slower, you can conserve Link's stamina even further by following the jump with a jumpslash.
Alternating between sprinting and walking allows you to conserve stamina while running up a slope or through sand. This extends the distance covered by a single charge of stamina, allowing Link to travel farther across sand or up slopes. One notable use of this is in the Earth Temple.
If done right, you can also make Link stand in place (or move slowly) on a slope. This can be useful in Eldin, when waiting for the Bokoblins to retrieve another rock.
While moving, hold the A button for about a half a second and then release A for about a half a second. Repeat this as much as needed.
Note: The timing is stricter running up a slope than through sand, because Link will slide down the slope more quickly than he sinks into sand.
In general, flying is best done by holding the Joycon with the buttons facing up, and then rotating the Joycon left and right to turn, while tilting up and down to gain or lose altitude. The only time you should tilt the Joycon up is if you need to gain a lot of altitude fast; in all other cases you should use wing flaps to gain altitude.
When turning, you should never tilt the Joycon more than 90 degrees from neutral. In other words, the Joycon's buttons should never be tilted downwards at all. Doing so will cause the game to start misinterpreting your turn direction.
The three boosts are the best way to reach top speed fast; in general you should use them as soon as they are available, and then allow them to fully recharge before using them again. The boosts are also the only way to defeat enemies in the sky, such as the wandering Guays, the Sky Octoroks, or the Skytails inside the thunderhead.
There are two ways to maintain or build your momentum while flying.
Flapping the loftwing's wings at a steady rhythm will maintain your momentum while simultaneously gaining altitude. Repeatedly flicking the Joycon up will not work for this; instead, you have to find the right rhythm for your flicks. If you have boosts available, you can alternate them with wing flaps to increase your speed.
A dive will gain you momentum while causing you to lose altitude. A steeper dive will increase your overall speed but lose you horizontal speed, so it is not recommended to dive as steeply as possible. In general you should not use loftwing boosts while diving, as the speed gain is minimal.
The zippers are floating rocks that you can pass through to gain a large speed boost. This speed boost is far superior to the normal loftwing boost; it gives you greater speed and lasts for longer. In general, it is beneficial to make small detours to pass through these zippers when travelling in the sky.
If you use a loftwing boost as you're passing through a zipper, the loftwing boost will dampen the zipper boost, so you should avoid this wherever possible.
After you learn the Spiral Charge from Owlan, it is possible to use the Spiral Charge to pass through the randomly spawned tornadoes without being thrown from your loftwing. To do so, start your spiral charge just before you enter the tornado.
After obtaining the Water Dragon's Scale, the fastest method of moving underwater is the spin attack, followed by the standard swimming while holding A and tilting the Joycon. Swimming underwater using the control stick without holding A is the slowest, but also provides the most maneuverability in terms of turning. Swimming with the control stick does not allow you to move vertically.
The downside to spin attacks is that you cannot change directions during them, and of course, they use up air quickly (especially on Hero Mode). But spin attacks are so much faster than standard swimming that you want to spin as often as possible, even sometimes at the cost of taking drowning damage.
For gradual or slight turns, it is acceptable to turn by tilting the Joycon while still holding A. If you need to make a sharp horizontal turn, however, it will be faster to release A, use the control stick to reorient your direction, then re-press A once your angle is set. If you combine this with a spin attack after turning, this method will allow for quick 90 degree (or sharper) turns.
When you run out of air underwater, an unseen timer starts counting down. When the timer runs out, Link is damaged (1 heart in Normal Mode, 2 hearts in Hero Mode). The timer then resets and the process repeats. If you obtain air in some way while the drowning timer is counting down, the timer stops, but does not reset. This means that the next time you run out of air, you could potentially take damage immediately, as the drowning timer has already partly or mostly counted down.
For many loading zones, Link will exit the loading zone with the same momentum with which he entered it. However, you will not gain control of Link until a certain spot, which means if you go through a loading zone with high momentum, there will be a short cutscene of Link running on the other side before you gain control.
Thus, there are some circumstances where you will want to kill your momentum right before going into a loading zone, so that you gain control of Link immediately on the other end of the loading zone.
Entering a loading zone with these actions will result in no momentum on the other side:
Entering a loading zone with these actions will result in some momentum on the other side:
Entering a loading zone with these actions will result in full momentum on the other side:
Lastly, some loading zones are not subject to these rules. This includes boss doors and other loading zones with a specific cutscene on the other side (e.g. the loading zone from the waterfall cave to the loftwing's pen area).
When entering select cutscenes, entering first-person view with 'C' can also save small amounts of time by taking away the brief cutscene of the camera panning back to Link
For some reason, this only works with certain cutscenes