Monday, 7 October 2013

The Difficulties of Learning to Trade Tennis

It dawned on me this week just how difficult it really is to become proficient at tennis trading.You certainly have to be very dedicated and willing to give up some social life in order to become a successful tennis trader. I worked out that during my first year, I racked up over 2,000 hours of tennis trading - and I LOST money! But in retrospect, I realise that what I lost financially, I gained in experience. All those hours weren't in vain because, unknown to me at the time, I was absorbing the market movements and player knowledge. I wasn't really studying it with any real plan. I never recorded any info on players or the market prices (though I should have). But all the while, it was sinking into my subconscious and after around 12 months of trading, it suddenly dawned on me; I could read the markets. I could read the players. I could price up matches. I could spot value.

It was another 6-12 months before I was able to put all that together into a cohesive plan that started to make money consistently - so two years and approximately 5,000 hours. I'm now at roughly 10,000 hours. There is no substitute for time on the ladders though. You can teach a trader good methods but you can't give them that "gut instinct" and feel for the matches or the markets - that has to be experienced and learnt first hand.  That said, if I'd had someone with my experience pushing me in the right direction, I reckon I'd have cut out several thousand hours of going up blind alleys and making horrendous mistakes.

There has to be some element of intuition involved and you can't get that without many hours of hard slog. So the less pressure and the more enjoyment you can get out of those hours, the better. The very first thing I say to all my members is "Be patient and don't set any profit targets; only aim to learn, enjoy and protect the bank". Those who take that on board might have a chance of making it. Those who don't could be adding hundreds or thousands of hours to their journey and if you are doing this part time, that really is an epic journey.

For most of the traders I've taken on in the academy, it's not simply been a case of saying "Here's my strategies - copy them and you'll be a winner!". All strategies are just a framework. The entry and exit points are finely tuned rules, all with a purpose behind them. But without knowledge of the markets, value, money management and trading psychology, no strategy will make you consistently profitable over a long period. This is where mentoring, I believe, can be the crucial factor in whether a trader goes on to be successful. I already know that some of my members, if they had just bought the strategies alone and not had access to my advice and guidance, would have quit by now and moved onto other strategies. Many of them would be struggling to get their head around the ideas involved. That's not because they are some amazing, ingenious techniques that require a brain the size of the moon to implement. It's because most traders aren't familiar with the way that successful pros think about the markets. It's a completely different way to how your average bettor / trader thinks and it can take some getting used to.

A lot of people who enquire about my tennis academy, are backing short priced faves and wondering why they keep getting lots of wins (which they think suggests they have an edge) but one or two losses wipes them out. They think it's a psychological issue but when I suggest that it's more likely to be their strategy / approach to trading, they don't want to hear that! But if you can learn how to apply that correct mindset and approach to trading, then you are in a position where the markets are your oyster and you can discover your own strategies. Even those who do understand the correct way to approach trading, don't always apply that approach when they trade. Now that IS a psychological issue, rather than a lack of knowledge and again, it can take an outside influence to shift those thought patterns in the right direction.

For most of my academy members, what I've found they really need is to understand how they should be approaching trading as a whole. Even if they cannot make my strategies work, I hope that they will at least come away from the academy understanding the correct way to approach the markets and think like a pro. I wish I'd had someone gently (and at times, very strongly!) pushing me along the right pathway instead of my incorrect mentality leading me up all those endless blind alleys.

Eugenie Bouchard:

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