It is now exactly 6 months since I started 'Centre Court Trading'. What a tumultuous ride it's been! After a solid start, I was soon struggling and making enormous errors. After a brief 'boom and bust' period, I found myself slipping deep into a well of anxiety. My bank shrivelled to almost zero and I truly felt as though it was all over for me, until I introduced bank management and was able to trade with greater freedom. After 3 months, I was brimming with excitement, as my trading hit new heights for consistency and ROI. But I started to get ahead of myself, took my eye off the ball, became complacent. I felt it was just a formality now, a matter of time until I was raking in the cash. My focus levels began to deteriorate and my concentration was so poor, I didn't even realise how often I was losing my full stake each week. When I saw that I wasn't improving as much as I'd hoped, I felt burnt-out and lost the passion for trading. Mistakes began to get worse and more frequent and eventually, I was back to where I was in 'The Dark Ages' of February and March.
That said, my trading has improved massively during this blog. I had huge anger and impatience issues at the beginning, which have steadily improved as I've gone along, particularly helped by hypnosis. I had pretty much no serious bank or risk management in place. This has now changed. There were too many little things that I didn't bother to safeguard against (Betunfair going down, player injuries etc) that I now have a plan for. I have tweaked my strategy so that it is much tighter on all surfaces, particularly grass and clay, which I had struggled to come to terms with. Most of all, I have seen big improvements in the psychological side of trading.
When you compare how I was during my first really bad spell (The Dark Ages) and my second spell over the last couple of months, the difference in my behaviour is drastically different. Before, I was constantly berating myself, punching walls, inflicting actual physical damage to my own body, screaming the house down in frustration. I just couldn't let any mistake go, no matter how small. My anxiety left me sleepless at night and literally trembling with fear every time I placed a trade. I even had pains along my left arm during some trades, as my heart-beat pounded out of my chest. Contrast that with June and July, where I never at any point felt any pain and always believed that it was only a matter of time before things would turn around. I always traded calmly and if I did get frustrated, it wouldn't normally last more than a game or two. The red mist phase could go on for days, previously.
But I really needed a break, some proper time-out to refresh and now that I'm back after a week off, I feel rejuvenated. I really let myself go at the festival I attended, not thinking about trading for even a second. Even despite the fact I didn't sleep for 48 hours over the weekend and have picked up a cold, my trading on Monday was noticeably of a far higher standard than at any point in the last 2 months. Every game, I was completely focused and felt great placing trades. I enjoyed tennis once again and this translated into good results. I'm not saying I didn't make mistakes. I realise that I have slipped back into some bad habits and these will take a little time to rid myself of, but I've always maintained that if my focus and passion is there, I will make money - it's just a matter of how much.
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book 'Outliers', at least 10,000 hours of meaningful practice are required in order for anyone to successfully master anything. I'm at almost 5,000. This is based on trading every day, averaging 8 hours a day for 18 months (which is roughly what I have done). So I'm halfway through my apprenticeship! I reckon I could easily have cut that total in half though, if I'd started trading with no intention of making any profit to begin with. Most of my struggles have been because I have been too impatient and too desperate to make money quickly. This meant I wasn't able to learn at a steady pace, which made accepting losses even harder, so I just kept chasing and going round in circles. But whatever the case, it is encouraging to know that just because I'm not 'there' yet, it doesn't mean that I won't ever reach the promised land.
So 6 months down the blogging line and 5,000 hours into my apprenticeship, I am quite proud that I'm still around. I've seen dozens of blogs fall by the wayside and I almost went that way too. But I reckon I'll be around for at least another few months as we move into the final third of the tennis season and back to the hard courts. This time, with renewed vigour and vitality.