Friday, 22 April 2011

Tennis Strategy

If there is one thing that traders will argue over for all eternity, it's strategies. We all have different ideas and opinions of what will work and what won't. I think when it comes to strategy, you should never knock any particular idea. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong strategy, you have to choose one which works best for you. That means one which suits your personality as well as one you can make profit from. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find something that you are comfortable using. It's no use just copying what someone else has given you if you don't enjoy implementing it. Why? Because in the long run, you will always be looking for something better, easier, more profitable or less stressful. If you are doing that, it means you are not confident in what you are doing and if you don't have confidence in your strategy, as soon as you hit a rough patch, you are in big trouble. You'll start to question the system, you'll be less decisive and you'll implement it incorrectly. The easy thing to do when you hit a bad spell is to blame the strategy. The truth, in my experience, is that the strategy is rarely to blame - it's YOU, the person using the strategy, that is usually the problem.

In tennis, there really aren't that many basic strategies to pick from. It's not like football, where there are loads of different markets to trade on. In tennis, we are nearly all trading on Match Odds and there are only a limited number of things we can do. There is no real secrecy anymore about what you can do to make money. There isn't any hidden golden-egg laying goose, where you just turn up and repeat the same thing over and over on auto-pilot. At the end of the day, you need to find an edge and that edge is YOU. It's how you implement those basic strategies that determines your success; your mindset, your professionalism, you discipline, your risk management, your knowledge of the game and the market.

When people get into discussions about the best strategies, I often hear the line 'It can't work'. In my opinion, if you have all that I've mentioned above (discipline, mindset etc), there is absolutely no reason why almost any strategy can’t work. But often, a person who has failed to make a strategy work, usually because they lack those qualities, will then claim that it's not a good strategy. If you don’t have what it takes to make something work, it doesn’t mean that someone else won’t be able to. We all have to experiment and find what’s best for us and not worry about what everyone else is doing. It's easy to give up on a strategy because we aren't seeing instant results and it's easy to blame the strategy rather than look at our own inadequacies and try to change. God-knows I've done that myself on many occassions! The truth is that trading is tough. Like anything that has potentially big financial rewards, those who succeed are the ones who are prepared to work the hardest. That is unlikely to include anyone who continually moves from one strategy to another, giving up quickly and moaning that it doesn't work.

I have said on here before that my strategy will definitely be profitable in the right hands. Unfortunately, for most of the time I've used it, it has been in the wrong hands! But I stuck at it, persevered through the tough times and changed what I needed to to make it work. Many times I've attempted new strategies but I eventually realised that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Just a month ago, I was ready to completely switch to another strategy and ditch the old one. When I did, the results suddenly dried up and I realised that it wasn't the answer I was looking for. It didn't suit my personality either, I found it far more stressful when using real money than when I successfully paper-traded it. So I realised that I needed to change myself, introduced lower stakes and bank management and went back to the old one. I felt far more comfortable and realised that the system DID suit me after-all, I just needed to tweak a few things.

I prefer a strategy where I can play a lot of games and get lots of small to medium greens, rather than taking lots of small losses waiting for the occassional big win. I personally find it far more stressful waiting around for ages for a match to turn in my favour. Certainly as a full-timer, the pressure of waiting around doing nothing, waiting for that one big win in 3 or 4 or 5 games, is intense. I've tried it and wouldn't want to go through that every day in order to pay the bills. What happens if you miss that one big win after a load of losses? I deliberately worked on my strategy with going full-time always in my mind. I wanted to have something that I knew would allow me to get involved in as many games as possible and would give me a regular build up of greens, in order to help me not only from a financial stand-point but from a pyschological one. With that in mind, I decided to learn about all the basic strategies, so that I could implement whichever one was appropriate at the time.

There is always much discussion about risk-reward, stake sizes, liability size etc. The potential risk compared to the reward, can be quite large for some strategies. I found that a big issue mentally for a long time and didn't think I'd ever get my head around it. The key word though, is 'potential' risk. Your liability is only ever as big as you make it. You ALWAYS have the option to red up at any point and limit losses. It's not the system that is risky, it is your implementation of it that can put yourself in risky positions. I would say it's imperative that you pick a strategy which matches your personality. You may be someone who is very cautious and wants to expose as little of their bank as possible. You might be happy exposing large chunks of your bank because you are comfortable with using your red-out points. You might find the stress of that too much and just want to lay at less risky exposure. But then you might find that you have to accept more losses and have to wait for big wins, which can also be stressful. Maybe you prefer to be in the market for short periods or maybe you are more comfortable holding on to long term positions. Whatever it is you do though, I would advise just one thing; find something you are comfortable with and stick with it - look at yourself, don't blame the system!

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