Friday, 22 July 2011

Rest and Recouperation

Well this is it. I'm now officially down the well. I'm back in the Gambler's Cycle of endless chasing and needless errors and negative thoughts. I've struggled against it all week, thought I'd just about managed to steady the ship but today, it all just exploded. Yet another day of poor focus lead to me taking 5 large reds. I lost almost my entire stake on one of them. I just lost the plot today as my head wasn't in the right place. I now realise that this has gone way too far without me taking drastic enough action. I guess I thought if I stayed calm and grinded it out, things would eventually turn but I now think that I've been too complacent thinking that. I need to take more action cos waiting isn't working.

I imagine what is going through my head right now is similar to that of Aravane Rezai. No matter what she seems to do this year, she just cannot get back that form from last year. Every game seems to go the exact same way; signs of promise, massive hitting, some breathtaking winners but by the end of the game, it's all hidden amidst a blanket of unforced errors, double faults and non-existent tactics. I feel for her, I really do, we are so alike in our current situations. Well, except she is a millionaire and I'm penniless. I'm sure that's of some comfort for her after today's loss. And yes, she did cost me money.

I'm absolutely livid with myself that after all the shit I've been through in the past, I still don't appear to have learnt from it. Losing focus is one thing; that was a new experience as a tennis trader. But chasing losses, getting involved at risky stages, not using correct exit and entry points, taking my eye off the game - these are inexcusable. Once, I can tolerate, it happens every now and then. But the number of times I messed up today must have gone into double figures. Even when I fortuitously scraped back a large chunk of green, I went and lost it all on the very next game, trying for too much.

No, today was the day when I realised I need to do more to stop the rot. So that's it - I'm taking a complete break. No more trading for a whole week. And whilst I'm away from the ladders, I will not even think about them. I don't need to change the strategy, I just need to follow it! Hopefully, I'll come back recharged and refreshed. I need a clean slate and that means attempting to rid my mind of the emotional baggage of the last few weeks. I've decided to scrap all my old paper records, purge myself of all those bad results. My new goals will be to work harder at retaining focus, keeping away from distractions and eradicating any thoughts about previous trades. I'm not disciplined enough and have really let myself slip. I will be trying new techniques which I hope will enable me to eventually clear my mind from trade to trade, wiping out any negativity.

The good news this week is that I have been redding-up at the 25% mark when required. Apart from one slip-up today, I seem to be getting better at accepting I'm wrong. The only problem is, I've got it wrong far too many times this week! And that is purely down to impatience and lack of focus. It seems only a proper break is ever going to fix this malaise I'm in. When I return, I expect to be in a sharper frame of mind and with a fresh set of weapons to help me in this psychological battle otherwise known as sports trading..............see you in August!


  1. Take the break man, sorry to ask you this but are the reds because of a failing strategy or because you are not applying the strategy ?

  2. Not applying it. Something I tend to do when I'm not focused or anxious about getting some profit, is to jump in to the market too early, rather than wait for a solid opportunity.

    I've haven't questioned my basic strategy all year because my records show that whenever I follow it properly, it produces. But I'm so burnt-out that I've lost focus and can't maintain a consistent level. Mistakes are getting more and more frequent.

    Not sure I'll manage to stay away for a whole week but I definitely have a holiday booked for next weekend and I've never needed one so badly.

  3. Hi Sultan, I feel for you. These are natural elements in all trading related never trade the trade your beliefs about the markets. If you are in a cycle of stress it can be hard to break out of it.

    I would suggest that you do two things:
    1. Trade very small stakes. So small that that if you have a horrible day then financially it won't make a difference to you.
    2. Don't focus AT ALL on your profit/loss results. Instead focus on PROCESS ORIENTED goals..i.e. follow your rules. Cut Your Losses Quickly, etc. If you follow all your rules and still have a loss that day you should pat yourself on the back because without your rules you would have lost a lot more. The markets will also give a string of losses no matter how good your systems or strategies are...that just the way of it. If you prove to yourself that you can follow your rules then sooner or later the RESULT ORIENTATED goals will look after themselves. As you build up the disciple to follow your rules with small stakes and start winning again just add a little more onto your stakes. Make that "adding to stake rule" objective not subjective. What I mean by that is for example start trading at 5% of your normal stakes, as you begin to make profit you can add 5% of the net profit you make onto your initial very small stakes. If you are disciplined and follow your rules then you will be very surprised how quickly you will be trading at your normal level again. This approach takes all the pressure off you to recoup your losses while also forcing you to execute your trades in a disciplined manner. If it takes you time to develop those characteristics that okay too as you'll be risking very little and just focusing on the process. If you have a losing run while using this "Staking strategy" then that's fine too as you will be reducing your stake size while you are "not in the zone". This style of stake sizing (or Position Sizing if you were in the financial markets) is called anti-martingale. It's an excellent way of insuring you survival during any future bad periods (either as a consequence of your actions or simply because the markets sometimes give you a long run of losers) while giving you the opportunity to really profit when you are in the zone.
    Hope that helps.
    From a fellow trader.

  4. Cheers Rob, this is great advice. Actually, I was in a much worse position than this back in March and was given similar advice. I eventually did take it on board and almost instantly, I improved. The smaller stakes took the anxiety away and I traded brilliantly for 2 months afterwards.

    However, I have lost focus the last couple of months and it's affected my trading. I think it's due to burn-out, trading too many days without breaks. I don't think there is a staking issue because I learnt from last time that I need proper bank management. I also am not suffering from stress, I'm surprisingly calm! This is again because I learnt from last time, when I was on the verge of a break-down.

    I've just gotten sloppy because I can't concentrate for long enough. I'm certain a break will do the trick because when I do make a huge effort, I can focus and do fine but I can't maintain it like I used to. I have started to get frustrated lately and lose my cool, hence this enforced break. Any newbies reading this should definitely heed your words though.


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