Category Archives: Trader

Trader – In this category our interest is in exploring all aspects of peak human performance, including: (a) Examination of the human body and mind and the ways that they impact upon our trading results, both positively and negatively. (b) Exploration of learning theory and the ways to maximise the development of knowledge and skill.

Learning from Baseball’s “Mental Reset”

 

I recently sent out the following two posts via social media, discussing the importance of having a plan in place to quickly clear your mind and get back into the game, whenever you sense frustration of any kind:

<image: Learning from Baseball's "Mental Reset">

<image: Learning from Baseball's "Mental Reset">

In response to these posts, I received the following exceptional email:

Hi Lance,

I liked your recent Twitter post about your "Regroup Procedure" after losses and thought I'd share something I learned while playing college baseball that I have applied in my trading.

We practiced what we called our "Mental Resets" while batting. A mental reset is required whenever anything "shocks" you and gets you off your plan at the plate. Every time you walk up to the plate, you should have a pre-meditated plan of the pitch you are looking to hit and anything that can dissuade you away from that plan has to be combated with a mental reset to get you BACK to your plan.

The physical act of mentally resetting is to: Step out of the batters box, focus on a small spot on your bat (we call it our "zero point"… We want to get back to zero emotionally), and take a slow deep breath. You then reaffirm your plan in your head, and step back into the box with confidence.

Our 5 Automatic Mental Resets were:

1) Swinging at a pitch that doesn't match your plan… – Swung at a bad pitch… step out of the box and RESET.

2) NOT swinging at the pitch that you were looking for… – You had a plan and for whatever reason you didn't pull the trigger on your pitch… RESET.

3) Bad call by the umpire… – You didn't think it was a strike and your upset. The umpire is out of your control… Step out and RESET.

4) Brush back… – You almost just got hit by a pitch. Your heart rate is too high and you aren't in a good state to be confident stepping back into the box… Step out and take a MENTAL RESET to bring you back to zero.

5) Changing of plan… – Something happened that requires a quick change of your plan (the most often one being moving to a 2 strike approach once you get 2 strikes on you)… – Change of plan… Environment has changed, we need to RESET here.

You don't have much time in between pitches to cool off, so if something upsets you, it is extremely important that you use a Mental Reset to keep your focus and get back to your plan. I think it is the same thing with trading… especially shorter time-frame trading. You don't have a lot of time to sit there and be upset. You have to RESET.

I thought you might find this parallel of Trading to Baseball interesting.

Cheers,

Alex

Thanks Alex. That is EXACTLY what I was talking about. Except your baseball analogy explains it just SO MUCH BETTER.

I called it a regroup (based on a term from my military days where a unit facing attack might drop back in order to reset and reorganise, in order to continue fighting).

Baseball calls it a mental reset.

The concept is the same.

When something has put your mindset on tilt then you need to step back away from the charts and reset or reorganise yourself, in order to return to the game with a clearer and more highly-focused mindset.

I've found this most effective when it involves a predefined and practiced ritual, such as my regroup checklist or Alex's routine for focus on the bat, slow breathing and reaffirmation of the plan.

To continue with the baseball theme, I'm reminded of a video which I shared a few years back.

The whole video is worth watching from a trading mindset perspective. But take note at 7:55 and you will see Evan Longoria complete his version of a mental reset.

(If the video is not playing here, click on this link to go direct to YouTube.)

Do you have a regroup or reset procedure?

If not, develop one now. Start with mine. Or adapt the baseball mental reset shared by Alex.

And then over time, amend it and make it your own.

As they say in the video, you need to have something to go to when the garbage hits the fan. Because the garbage will hit the fan. So let's be ready for it.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 


 

A Small Hack which has GREATLY Improved Consistency

 

For years now, I have been trading with a 5-minute countdown timer.

When it counts down to zero it sets off a buzzer before resetting and starting again.

<image: A small hack which has greatly improved consistency>

This served two purposes.

(1) It brings my focus back to the markets, in the event that it's slipped away (not unusual given that I trade overnight).

(2) It reminds me to carry out a process checklist which cycles through various aspects of higher and trading timeframe analysis. The aim here is to maintain some "bigger picture" situational awareness.

But here is the problem…

The buzzer has become such a common occurrence that it tends to slip into the background of my awareness. Especially if I'm getting tired. I effectively just IGNORE it.

Damn you brain!!!

It worked great for the first few months.But for quite a long time now, it just hasn't been effective. (The buzzer, I mean. Not the brain!)

So here's a little hack. It's an idea I got from the TV show "Lost".

In "Lost" there is a countdown timer that must be reset every 108 minutes, otherwise the world ends. The important difference is that this timer must be reset BEFORE it hits zero. It's not reset AFTER reaching zero, like my little timer.

So what if I did the same thing?

What if my intent was to complete my regular "situational awareness" routine and manually reset the timer BEFORE it hits zero, or else the world ends and we all die in a fiery inferno?

Disclaimer: The world doesn't really end. It's just a game!

Sounds good so far. Apart from the dying bit.

The results have been tremendous.

Simply shifting my intent from "taking action AFTER the buzzer goes off" to "taking action BEFORE the buzzer goes off… or else everyone dies", has dramatically improved my consistency.

It's turned the process into a game. Into a bit of fun. I can maintain a higher state of focus for most of my trading session. And it REALLY annoys me when I slip up and let it hit zero.

Particularly because I changed to the standard Windows-10 Alarms & Clock app. When it hits zero it sounds an alarm and displays a pop-up notification, and DOESN'T STOP until I manually stop it. It's damn annoying.

<image: A small hack which has greatly improved consistency>

If you also struggle with consistency in applying regular routines or procedures, consider trying this little hack.

It kind of adds to the enjoyment of the day.

But more importantly… it seems to work.

Give it a try. Reset that timer. And help me keep the world safe.

Lance Beggs

 


 

Remain Focused and Get In on the Retest

 

The aim of today's post is to highlight two lessons we discussed in previous years, which came into play in a recent price sequence.

<image: Two lessons from the YTC archives>

<image: Two lessons from the YTC archives>

<image: Two lessons from the YTC archives>

We don't profit from regret. We profit from quality decisions in the NOW.

So when you miss a price sequence that you feel you "should have" caught, you need a way to move past it quickly to ensure that it doesn't negatively affect further decision making.

I find these two lessons quite effective in helping me get over missed opportunity: 

Lesson 1: It wasn't mine to catch. If it was, I would have caught it. Let it go.

Lesson 2: Remain focused. There might just be an opportunity to get in on a retest.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

Related article: It Wasn't Mine to Take but the Next One Will Be

 


 

Improving and Maintaining FOCUS for Day Traders

 

This is not for those who trade longer timeframes. If you trade the 15 minute chart or higher then you should NOT be aiming for constant screen watching all day. Set alarms to monitor price on completion of each trading timeframe candle. And price alerts to bring your attention back to the charts at key levels.

If you trade the 5 minute chart, perhaps you'll want a blend of the two. Alerts when price is well clear of potential setup areas. Screen watching only when there is potential for trade opportunity.

But below 5 minutes, you'll likely want to spend considerable time watching the price movement.

And for you, it's important that you develop a plan to achieve peak-performance levels of focus.

<image: FOCUS>

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

Here are my thoughts:

Let's start by reviewing one of the key ideas in the article on discipline.

Read it here if you missed it: http://yourtradingcoach.com/trader/how-can-i-get-more-discipline/

In that article, I suggested that you can't "get more discipline". Discipline is actually an outcome. And it comes about through effective HABITS and STATE MANAGEMENT.

The same applies when we think about focus.

Focus is not something you can just get more of. Again, it's an outcome. And it comes about through HABITS and STATE MANAGEMENT.

We aim for habitual use of processes in our pre-session, during session and post-session routines, in order to establish a focused state. And to return quickly to the focused state if our mind should start to wander.

And we aim to place our body, mind and soul in as much of a peak-performance state as we can, in order to best maintain effective levels of presence, awareness and FOCUS.

So let's split this article into two parts, turning the idea of "focus" into a daily habit, and then ensuring effective state management.

Here's my plan:

Habits

1. The Power of Intention

There is nothing I've found more powerful in kick-starting my daily habit and ensuring disciplined focus than the power of intention.

This is a documented part of my pre-session routine.

It is simply a verbal statement of intent that "Today I WILL focus on the charts. I will not allow myself to open my browser for any non-trading purpose".

That is obviously set up for my most common distracter. "I'll just have a quick look at email and social media."

Adjust the statement to suit your own needs. But be sure to give it a try.

I can confirm through having monitored this as part of my review process, that days which begin with a verbal statement of intent are typically more focused than days when I did not make the statement of intent.

2. My Focus Statement

This is used during the session, whenever I have caught my attention wandering.

Here it is via a recent share on social media:

<image: FOCUS>

3. Regular Checks

Every 30 minutes I check my personal state. This includes an assessment on how effective I was in maintaining focus.

If particularly good or bad, I'll jot down some notes.

These then feed into the post-session review.

And if poorly focused, it's back to the statement of intent and the focus statement (above). 

4. The Focus Alarm

I don't always use a focus alarm. I find if used continuously that it tends to just disappear into the "background" after a while.

But from time to time, in particular if slightly fatigued, it has helped.

It's simply an alarm that goes off on the close of EVERY trading timeframe candle. It sounds a bit extreme. But it works. You can of course set it for longer if you prefer. Or shorter.

But it acts as a "wake up" to not only shock me back into focus if I've slipped away again, but also allowing me to "update" my market analysis with this new candle information.

I use SnapTimer, but there are dozens online if you don't like it.

5. Post-Session Review

The 30 minute notes on your ability to maintain focus are pointless if you don't review them.

So post-session… review them.

And then, if you were not particularly effective, aim to identify why and find a way to improve tomorrow.

State Management

1. Eliminate Distraction

Your mind cannot be focused if it's surrounded by multiple temptations or distractions.

The mind is NOT a multi-tasker.

Remove all distractions – social media, internet, phones, pets, kids, and whatever else acts to take your attention away from the charts.

For web browsers, you can find apps which block access to them during preset times each day. Keep one browser available though (not the one you usually use for surfing). If your platform goes down or you get other tech issues, you're going to want some way of getting online quickly.

2. Adequate Rest

Set a minimum standard for rest. And stick to it.

See here for mine – http://yourtradingcoach.com/trader/trader-fatigue-management/

3. Adequate Hydration

There's a water bottle just off to my right. Always accessible.

Essential.

Get one for your trading room if you don't have one.

4. Physical Health

This kind of goes without saying. If you struggle with focus, exercise better and eat better. Simple!

You will notice improvement in all areas of your life.

5. Relaxation processes

I have regular breathing routines from back in my Tai Chi & Chi Gung days.

If you don't, Google search it.

Find some exercises to relax the mind, body and soul.

6. Stimulants

Coffee pre-session. To be honest I'm not sure on the science of this one. It is effective for me, given the night hours I trade. But not too much. One a half-hour before trading seems to help me. Give it a try.

I have a glucose lolly pre-session. And then a second during the session if I feel a bit flat. See here – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?pagewanted=all

I've heard chocolate helps. But maybe I'm making that one up because, you know, chocolate!   🙂

I've heard blueberries are good for a sharp mind. Give that a try if you're not a fan of chocolate. (Send me your chocolate!)

Chewing gum, while not exactly a stimulant, seems to work well in dissipating any nervous energy that can act as a distraction.

7. Regular Breaks

Always aim to spend a few minutes every half hour AWAY FROM THE DESK.

Get up. Stretch. Go for a walk. Whatever you need.

Just get away from the charts to reset your mind.

8. Regular Exercise

Consider incorporating this into your breaks.

Nothing gives you a "wake up" quite as effectively as a short, sharp burst of exercise.

9. Background Music

Nothing with lyrics. EVER.

But experiment with background ambient music, binaural beats or isochronous tones. Or whatever works the best for you.

It's a process of trial and error. Add this to your post-session review until you find a number of preferred solutions.

10. Standing Desks

I don't have one right now due to the current layout of my trading room. But I've used this in the past to great effect.

Seriously, it works incredibly well.

Raise your desk. And stand back a bit, out of arms reach of the keyboard and mouse.

Step forward ONLY when it's trade time.

It's just you and the charts. Absolutely NO WAY to click on that web browser, even if you wanted to.

If Nothing Else Works

I've yet to see a trader try this but it looks like it has potential.

– – –

Well that just about wraps it up.

What have I missed?

If you have any tips or techniques which you've found effective for improving or maintaining focus, let us know in the blog post comments.

Best of luck,

Lance Beggs

 


 

It Wasn’t Mine To Take. But the Next One Will Be.

 

You can't catch every good price move.

<Image: It wasn't mine to take. If it was, I would have caught it.>

<Image: It wasn't mine to take. If it was, I would have caught it.>

<Image: But if I focus, the next one will be.>

<Image: But if I focus, the next one will be.>

<Image: But if I focus, the next one will be.>

<Image: But if I focus, the next one will be.>

<Image: But if I focus, the next one will be.>

<Image: But if I focus, the next one will be.>

<Image: But if I focus, the next one will be.>

 

You can't catch everything. If you miss a good move, remind yourself:

  • It wasn't mine to take. If it was, I would have caught it.

 

Now focus. There is more opportunity coming and it needs your full attention.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 


 

Is This a Trade You Would Take if You Were in Drawdown?

 

Some of my better trades lately seem to occur after a string of marginal trades which either stop out or seriously underperform.

Mostly because of my rule which says that after two poor trades I need to step aside, clear my mind and reassess the situation.

Time out!

Reassess!

It prevents a downward spiral of emotional revenge trading.

And allows me to return to the market with a new plan. Usually, a plan which waits for a change of structure and takes the first pullback opportunity within that new market regime.

<image: Two trades placing me in drawdown.>

<image: Time out. Reassess.>

<image: Consider the options when price breaks current structure.>

<image: Entry>

<image: Exit>

So this brings me to an idea that may help me cut out some of the more marginal trades.

And perhaps may help you with improving your trade quality as well.

Rather than waiting for two marginal trades to place me in drawdown, maybe I could trade "AS IF" I were already in that situation.

Prior to entry, ask:

  • "Is this a trade I would take if I were in drawdown?"

 

If so, go for it.

But if not, maybe pause and reassess.

Sometimes it will keep you out of a winner. That's how this game of probabilities works.

But if it's keeping you out of a number of marginal trades then there could well be a positive change to your edge.

If the idea appeals to you, give it a try. But track the impact it has on your edge over a series of "avoided trades".

Prior to entry, ask:

  • "Is this a trade I would take if I were in drawdown?"

 

<image: This IS a trade I'd take in drawdown.>

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 


 

Trading Alongside the Uncertainty and Fear

 

I shared the following post via social media on Wednesday:

<image: What if it's ok to feel uncertain?> 

Without doubt, this is one of the key lessons we must learn on the way to becoming a professional trader.

And so I was incredibly pleased to get the following reply:

<image: What if instead we learn to operate alongside the uncertainty and fear?>

Brilliant!

Thanks A.H.

This is exactly the right approach to the presence of the fear and doubt.

1. Recognise the emotion.

Just briefly, bring your focus back from the external (charts) to the internal (your body and mind). Notice what you're feeling.

2. Acknowledge the emotion.

Accept it. You can't fight it. You may as well welcome it.

If it helps… verbalise it.

3. Understand the emotion.

What is it trying to tell you? There is information there. Find it!

4. Review the trade premise.

Often you will find that steps one to three will significantly reduce the severity of emotion.

So the final step – review the trade premise from an objective chart-based perspective.

With the emotion acknowledged and diminished, does the trade premise actually contain edge?

If so, go for it.

<image: What if instead we learn to operate alongside the uncertainty and fear?>

<image: What if instead we learn to operate alongside the uncertainty and fear?>

<image: What if instead we learn to operate alongside the uncertainty and fear?>

<image: What if instead we learn to operate alongside the uncertainty and fear?>

If it helps, consider creating a "pre-entry mantra" to shift your focus inside and recognise, acknowledge and understand any emotion that may impact upon your trading decisions and actions.

With experience (and of course proper risk control) fear and emotion will reduce. But it never completely goes away.

You can't fight it.

Accept it. And learn to work alongside it.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 


 

An Entry Mindset with a Whole Lot Less Fear

 

The whole analysis process for a novice trader is aimed towards finding a winning trade.

Sure, they know intellectually that not all trades will win.

But surely this one… the one they worked so hard for… the one that all their analysis says is a good trade… it's just got to win!

And then they enter the trade…

An Entry Mindset with a Whole Lot Less Fear

Gripped by the fear that comes with every tick of price movement, they increase the risk of mismanaging the trade. They increase the likelihood of underperforming. And they risk potential damage to their self-belief.

What if there was another way?

What if you had a different mindset?

What if you stopped trying to find winners?

An Entry Mindset with a Whole Lot Less Fear

An Entry Mindset with a Whole Lot Less Fear

An Entry Mindset with a Whole Lot Less Fear

That's a key difference.

A novice is trying to find a trade that will win.

I'm trying to find an entry that is worthy of being one of twenty.

I don't need a winner.

I place all the odds in my favour. And I take the trade.

An Entry Mindset with a Whole Lot Less Fear

This is an entry that is worthy of being one of 20 within the group.

It doesn't need to be a winner.

The whole group of 20 needs to win.

So this trade just needs to get me off to a good start – profiting if it can, and just minimising the damage if it can't.

A slightly different mindset…. but with a whole lot less fear.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 


 

You Can’t Catch Them All

 

Never judge a missed trade by how it looks AFTER THE SESSION.

Always judge a missed trade by how it looked AT THE RIGHT-HAND SIDE OF THE SCREEN AT THE TIME OF ENTRY.

This article is in response to a question I received based upon the following image, from this prior article – http://yourtradingcoach.com/trading-process-and-strategy/how-do-you-find-time-to-plan-a-trade-on-a-1-minute-timeframe/

I didn't get an entry SHORT here... 

Here is the question I received:

  • Thank you Lance, again, for your recent article. One question that has stuck in my mind comes from the second image where you talk about the earlier missed entry. You said you can see it's an obvious trap entry point. But you weren't looking for that. Why not? Why did you miss the trade? Because, I agree with what you said. It looks obvious.

 

Check the prior article if you missed it – http://yourtradingcoach.com/trading-process-and-strategy/how-do-you-find-time-to-plan-a-trade-on-a-1-minute-timeframe/.

Ok, this is a common error.

It's so easy to look back at a chart post-session and find the largest and smoothest price swings. And then analyse the entry point to find the obvious way to get into that trade.

Followed shortly after by calling ourselves all kinds of names for having missed such a blindingly obvious entry. And then vowing to never make such a newbie error again.

Let's try it with this trade…

You can't catch them all

You can't catch them all

You can't catch them all

But it's not like that.

Trades look different at the hard right edge of the screen.

Here is the same missed trade from a different perspective, looking back at some earlier structure and positioning the entry point at the right-hand side.

You can't catch them all

You can't catch them all

You can't catch them all

You can't catch them all

I'm ok with missing this trade. I feel my assessment at the hard right edge was reasonable. I accept that you can't catch them all. And this is simply one that was not mine to catch. Hopefully you were able to catch it and profit from the whole move.

YES… we must review our charts post-session.

And it's very important to review the strongly directional price swings that were missed.

But make sure that the primary part of this review occurs at the hard right-hand edge of the screen.

Is it really something you should have caught? Or are you influenced by the hindsight view of the trade outcome?

Because the simple fact is….

as much as you'd love to…

You can't catch them all.

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs

 


 

Employing a Self-Distancing Strategy to Improve Journaling and Review

 

Close your eyes and imagine a really bad trading session. You might have a recent example you can use. Or if not, just make one up.

The details don't matter. They'll vary for each of us. Just make it bad.

Maybe this:

"I drag myself into the office and throw my bag on the floor. Feeling crap with a hangover and too little sleep due to last night's celebrations. It's 10 minutes till market open. No problems. I'll catch up on the pre-session admin later and just wing it. I'm on my third coffee already – this should help me make it through ok."

The market opens and drives higher with strength. "Suckers… it's right into resistance. I'll short here and catch the move back down to the market open."

Of course, it loses!

As does the second attempt. And the third. And the fourth, which had the stop pulled even higher, because "this damn thing is so overbought".

Or maybe your example is something much worse.

Whatever it is, close your eyes and visualise it. And feel every feeling that such a session would bring.

Disgust! Anger! Frustration!

Now, the session is over. You've smashed your keyboard and it's time for review. Close your eyes and imagine yourself critiquing your performance.

SERIOUSLY!

Close your eyes, visualise this scenario. And then critique your performance.

Now let's shift the scenario slightly.

This time the session went exactly the same, but you weren't the trader. The trader was the person you most love in life. Your partner. Your Mum. Whoever you care the most for.

And you're their coach. The person they come to after each session to discuss their performance and to plan the way forward.

Close your eyes and imagine how you would handle their performance review.

Visualise it.

Feel it.

If you've been honest with yourself, it's likely that the first scenario would have been far more emotional. Quite likely an explosive, self-critical and self-deprecating review.

Whereas the second, while still noting that the performance was unacceptable and must lead to change, would likely be more calm and rational. With a more considered review of both the reasons for the poor performance and the solution that is necessary to prevent recurrence.

This simple shift in the scenario has created some space, or distance, between our rational mind and the emotion associated with the trade performance.

 

Self-Distancing Strategies

I absolutely love this article by Brad Stulberg in NYMag.com:

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/02/self-distancing-will-help-you-make-smarter-deciions.html

Please read it. It will take about 10 minutes, tops.

Some key excerpts:

  • Collectively referred to as “self-distancing,” practices like those outlined above and Rusch’s “pretend you’re talking to a friend” allow us to remove our emotional selves from intense situations, paving the way for more thoughtful insight and subsequent decision-making.
  • Employing a self-distancing strategy allows you to evaluate activities or situations that are rife with passion from an entirely different perspective, one that includes logic alongside emotion.
  • “I talk to myself all the time,” says Rusch. “It’s just that when I talk to myself as myself, I tend to be negative and not so helpful. But when I talk to myself as if I were talking to a friend, my words are motivating, forgiving, and far more productive.”

 

Employing Self-Distancing Strategies to Improve Journaling and Review

I will be employing these ideas in two ways:

(1) Journaling

Here's another excerpt from the article:

  • Similar studies show that when individuals think, or journal, in the third person rather than in first person — for example, “John is running into challenges with his business that seem insurmountable” versus “I am running into challenges with my business that seem insurmountable” —they, too, evaluate themselves and their situations more clearly and with more wisdom.

 

I now journal in the third person.

Give it a try for a month. You can always go back to normal if you don't like it.

(2) Reviews

All reviews (session reviews and longer term reviews) will now be conducted as if I am the "Performance Coach" reviewing a trader within my firm.

Again, give it a try for a month. You've got nothing to lose.

And if you can separate your rational and logical side from the emotion of the session, just a little, there is a WHOLE LOT to potentially gain.

 

Why Not Get Started Right Now?

That trading you did so far this year is no longer yours. It was done by your best friend, your partner, or some other loved one.

You are now the performance coach.

And it's time for you to honestly review their trading business.

Close your eyes and imagine the review session. And answer the following questions.

  1. Did they approach these recent months with clear and realistic goals for growth and development?
  2. Did their performance drive them successfully towards achievement of their goals?
  3. Are the goals still appropriate, or do they need amending?
  4. What action must be taken in the coming months to take decisive steps forward?

 

Calmer. More rational. More logical.

And far more likely to lead to practical and effective decision making.

Give it a try!

Happy trading,

Lance Beggs