Saturday, 13 August 2011

Flicking the Switch

And so the first day of my FPD Plan comes to a close. Things started really well. I completely ignored the Stosur v Vinci game. No solid opportunity arose. FP and D all 100%. Wawrinka v Fish - all good. Waited patiently until set 2, placed a trade and won. Simples. Radwanska v Petkovic - spot on. An opening occured very early on and I was focused and alert enough to get straight on it and hold on for a win. Thought momentarily about going back in for more but patience won the day and I left, deciding I would take a break as I was starting to feel a little tired. Just need to sort out my focus and I'll be back in an hour for the Tsonga match................then came the brain freeze.

I actually said to myself 'Leave the Tipsarevic game and take a break'. But I just couldn't resist. It was already well into the first set. I only watched one game and then decided to pile in on Berdych, completely against my strategy. Focus gone = patience gone. Once Tipsarevic broke, it was a matter of time before discipline went too. I could've taken a 25% red at that point but of course, I didn't. I put more money on Berdych, he lost in straights and I lost the whole stake. So that game, in a nutshell, is exactly where I am going wrong. No F, no P and no D. Even though I knew not to trade that game, I still did it. There were no issues afterwards, I didn't chase at all. Made two scratch trades and didn't trade the other two. So good focus and good patience. But just a moment of madness, lasting no more than a few minutes, and I turned a profitable day into an unprofitable day.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I managed to fail on all three sections of the plan within one match on the first day! But this shows just how deeply ingrained all my bad habits are. Even though my mind is saying the right things at the right times, my body is not reacting. But out of the cinders of yet another poor day on the ladders, I think I may have found some answers.

Clearly, I need to flick a switch somewhere in my subconscious, that eliminates these ingrained bad habits that cause me to do things automatically. I'm so used to playing every game and trying to get a win from every match and hoping to turn around every bad situation, that it has become a reflex action that I can't stop. In order to flick that switch, I need to get used to doing the right things over and over again.

I realise now that that first hit is the most important one. Once I take that first 25% red, leave the game and then continue onwards, get a couple of wins under my belt, things won't feel so bad. Especially if taking that hit managed to save me 75%. If that happens, all of a sudden, I'm positive and relieved. I will then remember this for the next time and so will be more likely to take the 25% red again. The more it happens, the more I will become comfortable taking the hit until one day, it will just become second nature - I won't even think about whether to take it or not, I'll just do it.

What I'm saying is that the best thing that can happen to me now is that I HAVE to take a 25% red. The only way to overcome this issue is to face it head-on. If I now go on a fantastic run, where I don't need to red-up for a week, it's possible that I will never confront the problem and so when the time comes again, I will revert to my natural bad habits. So instead of fearing a red-out situation, I now need to embrace it and look forward to it. I need to test myself, I need to do it a few times and to see the impact it will have on my P&L.

The same applies to not trading every game - the more I opt out of games and switch off the PC, the more I will get used to it. Behind my attempts to trade every game, there is a fear that I might miss out on profit. I need to face that fear and gain satisfaction from the fact I'm not losing money by not trading. If I had opted out of the Tipsarevic game, I would have re-charged my batteries for an hour, not lost any money and not had a losing trade all day. That satisfaction would have been immeasurable for my confidence and the old habit of trading every game would be well on the way to being banished.

So this now means that I will go into every game with a very different attitude. No longer will I be looking to avoid fearful situations, I will be expecting them and looking forward to the challenge of conquering them. Because that's the only way that switch is going to be flicked.


  1. A most interesting blog in that you are able to comprehensively examine and understand your frame of mind while trading and coldly analyse your mistakes from a psychological perspective. Many people are not able to do that.

    You do however say very little about what makes you place a trade in the first place.

    Once you conquer the FPD part, would like to see you write more about why you think that you have an edge and how you are able to assess value from trading tennis matches in-play, as only FPD + an edge = profitable trading.

    Do you pre-define an exit point upon entering a trade?

    Do you know what the odds will be if a player holds serve or is broken or loses or wins the set?

    FPD is a must. Assessing value in-play is the hard part.

    You write well and the wallpaper images on your site are absolutely superb!

  2. Hi P, thanks fo your comments. You are right in that I have never really written about my actual strategy. The reason for this is that I am very happy with my 'edge' and have been for 6 months now. I've tweaked it here and there this year but it remains basically the same one I've used for almost a year. So I didn't feel the need to write about it because I know that it produces profit and my records have always shown this to be true.

    This blog focuses on mindset becaue that is what I struggle with. Making money isn't the issue, losing it is! I've gone past that stage where I need to find a strategy, that was last year. One of the reasons I get so frustrated and make mistakes is because I have everything in place with the system but can't overcome those psychological barriers.

    But seeing as you asked, I'll try to answer your questions here. My edge is simply that I have studied the players and the markets and tennis matches in such detail, that I am able to read situations in-play very well.

    I am able to spot momentum and follow it, using pre-defined entry and exit points. These points are determined by a variety of factors; whose playing, what stage of the game it is, the surface, recent form, what's happening in the match, what the market is likely to do etc. That is where my edge is - I can put together all that info and react quickly to capitalise where I think there is some value.

    There's no maths involved or in-depth stats, it's all just knowledge of tennis. The one thing I'd disagree with you on, is that assessing value in-play is the hard part. Anyone can learn all that from scratch and become proficient at it and I did that last year. It's the psychology that's the killer because learning that requires you to completely re-wire your mind. It's something that all trading books talk about as being the real difference between success and failure at his game.

    Hope that gives you some insight!


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