Thursday, 26 May 2011

Taking Each Game as it Comes

One of the most boring and over-used cliches, yet also, one of the most important philosophies in sport 'I'm just gonna take each game as it comes'. But this old phrase, usually trotted out by charisma-free footballers with nothing interesting to say and tennis players asked the same dumb questions in pre-match interviews, is one of the keys to being successful in any sport. And as always, the same can be applied to trading.

The idea is to basically stay in the present and not take anything for granted. Once the mind starts drifting towards the future, concentration levels can lapse and form can dip. How often do we see tennis players cruising to victory, only to suddenly take their foot off the gas and let their opponent back in the game? How often do we see football teams start to produce poor results directly before a massively important tie, such as a big cup game? It's usually because they are not focusing on the game they are currently involved in, not giving 100% effort, already preparing for the next game. Most of us do it all the time with our trading. Maybe we let a trade run, thinking it can't lose, take our eye off the ball and get burnt. Or maybe we get carried away with our short-term success and start getting over-confident, running before we can walk. Just like those sportsmen and women, we need to just take each game as it comes, stay in the present and always keep our expectations neutral. We should never think that any trade is a 'gimme', a 100% certainty and every match we take part in should in theory, be approached with the exact same attitude. But it doesn't often work out like that, does it!

It certainly didn't for me at the start of Roland Garros. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were an unmitigated disaster - the worst 3 days of consecutive trading I've had since The Dark Ages (which is what I like to call March and most of February). The main reason I believe that they were so bad, was because I didn't take each game as it came. I had already built up The French Open as a key crossroads in my trading career. Reading through my previous post, it is clear that I had set myself up for a big week, expecting maybe too much to be gained. This is something I've done at almost every Grand Slam event and almost every time, it's come to bite me on the ass. What I should have done was just to treat RG as I would do any other tournament. But I put a much greater emphasis on hitting a monetary target and making larger amounts from each day than I would normally.

So from the word go on Sunday's 1st round matches, I was pumped up and hit the matches like a bull in a china shop. There were so many great match-ups and potential opportunites on at the same time, that I was trading too many games together, flipping betweeen streams and scoreboards too often and not being able to focus on a game as much as required. I bought myself a Eurosport online subscription, so I could flick between matches but that only made my trading even more of a mess. The streams are way behind the live action AND the IBM Slamtracker scoreboards, which made trading and watching very hard to combine. It didn't help that the streams were constantly buffering, presumably under the weight of customers accessing the system - I don't reccommend Eurosport online for trading. My trading was generally all over the place; a mad, hectic rush from one stream and one match to the next. I'd also decided to up my stakes by 50%, a last minute idea to try and boost profits and make the most of all the quality matches coming thick and fast. This only caused me to panic more when I wasn't doing well, as red figures appeared larger than what I'd become used to. It all cost me badly as I made some huge errors, ones I'd not been making for weeks. And all because I didn't just take each game as it comes.

I had probably gotten to over-excited by my recent successes and was starting to dream of great possibilities of the future. All of a sudden, I wanted to make more money, in larger amounts and over a quicker timescale, neglecting my 'slowly but surely' low stakes approach. I didn't concentrate on one game, as I usually do and was too anxious not to miss out on opportunites in other games, so had eyes all over the shop. In the past, I would have slid back into the Gambler's Cycle and probably ended up in deep trouble. But these days, I tend to get over any setbacks very quickly. It took 3 days this time, longer than I have been experiencing but once I'd settled down, I had a fantastic Wednesday and Thursday, recouping all losses and finally getting my head into the right frame of mind (as you can see from Thursday's P&L). I stopped looking at Roland Garros as the be all and end all and started relaxing.

My trading was as bad as my predictions for those 3 days! Berdych and El Mugro made me look a mug by going out in round one. Both were 2 sets up and STILL managed to lose to rank outsiders! Florian Mayer was well beaten in round 2 by Alejandro Falla. So all the ones I fancied to cause an upset, except Gasquet, have been upset! I think my prediction that Clijsters wouldn't win makes up for it though. Dumped out by Rus, a player who I've seen a lot of this year and to be frank, was not that surprised she gave a good showing. She's a real raw talent who will go a lot higher in the rankings. Azarenka and Kvitova look in great shape and my other prediction for the women, Zvonareva, squeezed through against Lisicki, a great result as she couldn't have had a tougher draw at this stage of the competition.

If I was to revise any predictions, I'd say Schiavone is playing as well as she did when she won RG, form which has come out of nowhere. I still think Franny will come up short before the final. And I still think Sharapova will take some beating, despite the fact she was getting obliterated by 17 year old French girl Caroline Garcia. A set and 4-1 down, she looked finished. I was routing for Garcia, as rarely have I seen such a young player attack with such confidence and accuracy - one of the matches of the year, for me. Just couldn't quite get over the finish line as Maria brought out the big guns and ripped into her. Watch out for Garcia in future though, I've not seen anyone ranked outside the top 100 play as well as that against such a strong opponent. The new balls they are using this year are apparently zipping through very fast and as the courts at RG are quite quick for clay, it will really suit Sharapova and my main tips, Petra Kvitova and Azarenka.

As for me, I'm taking all the pressure off this fortnight and just treating it like any other tournament. It may sound boring but my main goal is now simply just to take each game as it comes.................

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