Think like an Athlete to reach a proper peak performance in trading

Think like an Athlete To Reach a Proper peak of Performance

Hello traders  hope everyone is having a good weekend. We are sharing some knowledge that  we had the opportunity to absorb from the book the Inner game of tennis by Thimothy Gallwey. 

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Believe us or not , The book has valuable information that will help you in  your trading carrer. As they say: we become better at charts by not working on charts. We become better at trading by working on ourselves. This is a  classic guide for mental peak performance. As Airforexone do , this information is not for the average retail trader, this is proper education for like minded people.

In This post, I try to compare a trader with a Tennis Player  or athlete. You will understand later why.

 At the end of the day , trading is a mental sport. Ou goal is to reach a proper mental side in order to achieve a peak performance .

Let’s get into it.

In tennis or any other sport there are two components 

  • An Outer Game. This is “against the external opponent to overcome external obstacles, and to reach an external goal.” Outer game bring us 20% of the results. It can be the score , the external outcome, the conditions to play etc…
  • An Inner Game. This is what “takes place in the mind of the player, and it is played against such obstacles as lapses in concentration, nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation.”Inner game bring us 80% of the results. This is what really subconscient drive our performance.

We are already masters of the inner game In our own way. 

 It’s only a matter of unlearning the bad habits that block us from getting close to what we want to achieve.

In each of us  as mental athletes exists two different selves: self 1 and self 2.

 Think of self 1 as our conscious and logical mind and self 2 as our subconscious mind.

 The key to improving tennis, trading , or anything, rests in improving the relationship between these two selves. Getting into the FLOW.

The ultimate goal is to build the proper habits to extract money from the market in a calm estate of mind. Both self 1 and self2 needs to be in synchrony.

 Let’s continue comparing self 1 and self 2.

  • Self 1 does not trust .
  • Self 2, even though it embodies all the potential you have developed up to that moment and is far more competent to control the muscle system in charge of the result than Self 1.
  • Self 1 is the teller ,the conscious mind
  • Self 2 is the doer. the subconscient mind.
The ultimate goal is to trust in the self 2. 

In a ridiculous way: Self 1 is like an post-it note but the self 2 is like a NASA computer. Very complexe but  it can bring us way more results because of their complexity and subconscience efficiency.

What does the phrase “getting it together” really mean?

  • Slowing the mind. You achieve quiet by training yourself to be less thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling, jittering, or distracting. In other words not being emotional.
We don’t want to allow emotions overcome our perspective. We don’t want self1to judge the situation.

We must learn how to see our experiences without judgment (a very zen concept).  You must quit judging good or bad. We must see what’s happening instead. For example 

  • “What I mean by judgment is the act of assigning a negative or positive value to an event. In effect it is saying that some events within your experience are good and you like them, and other events in your experience are bad and you don’t like them.”
  • “Be clear about this: letting go of judgments does not mean ignoring errors. It simply means seeing events as they are and not adding anything to them.”
In the trading world : You must let go judgment from past experiences. It doesn’t mean ignoring errors. It simply means seeing events as they are. We are playing in a probabilistic environment in which every trade is unique and everything can happen. 

Let’s take an example : Self 1 will judge .

In tennis : First you serve , then you think in our out. You judge good or bad. You Change or repeat . Then you try hard to repeat or correct in any moment you trust in your self 2. 

In trading , you execute , then you think it will be a winner or loser , finally you judge good or bad. You change or repeat . Finally you try hard to repeat or correct in any moment you trust in your intuition.
After multiple cycles repeating the same action  you will get to a point on which you will ask yourself: How Am I doing overall? Good or bad?
You become what you think. Nothing is good or bad unless you say so. 
What you should do is : 
when you hit properly the ball: You must say to you: it’s ok. great awesome , I must repeat what I am doing right.

When you hit improperly or you miss the ball you must say: it’s ok needs work, this experience is teaching me what does not really  work. ( we are being neutral)

In trading is the same :

if you take a proper trading that suits you plan you must say to you: Ok , great , awesome , I must repeat what I am doing right . This is not a reason to become euphoric or greedy.

If you have a losing trade , you must say . ok it’s part of it  after all every trade is unique and everything can happen. It just  needs work . I must be neutral because the next opportunity will be another chance. In any moment you should become emotional and say : the markets sucks , the mentor sucks , this is not for me  bla bla bla…


How to really trust in your self 2?

  • Don’t take for granted the automatic processes at work within your body. Be aware and acknowledge the miracle that these functions exist.
  • “You are not your body. Trust the body to learn and to play, as you would trust another person to do a job…” For that you just need proper education.
  • Have the end in mind when you communicate with self 2. If you know what your goals are, self 2 can learn what’s necessary to help you reach them.
  • Ask for Qualities: role playing the positive characteristics you wish to emulate.

Experience precedes technical knowledge.

  • “We read many books or articles that present technical instructions before we have ever lifted a racket, but where did these instructions come from? At some point did they not originate in someone’s experience? Either by accident or by intention someone hit a ball in a certain way and it felt good and it worked. Through experimentation, refinements were made and finally settled into a repeatable stroke.”
  • In trading we take many courses that present technical instructions before we have ever executed a trade by ourselves. Those courses  where originated from someone experience.  Through experimentation , refinements we made and finally settled into a repeatable stroke.. 

How to watch and learn from the pros.

  • “The best method is to simply watch without assuming that how the pro swings is how you should be swinging.” In trading is the same . Is not because someone is collecting money from the market that it is suposed to be the correct way.
  • “Use outside models in your learning, but don’t let them use you.  IT WON’T HAPPEN.

As they say : Doctors won’t make you healthier , mentors won’t get you richer. Teachers won’t make you smart , Ultimately you have to be inspired and take responsibility.

Natural learning is and always will be from the inside out, not vice versa. You are the learner and it is your individual, internal learning process that ultimately governs your learning.” That is what is going to bring you the results you want.

Grooves are patterns built through repetition. To change your habits, you don’t need to climb out of old grooves. Focus on digging new ones instead. Gallwey uses the example of babies, who don’t break the habit of crawling. They start new ones I.E. walking instead.

In trading is the same: You cannot break the habit of being undisciplined with your trading plan . Instead start new ones that will allow you to survive such as risking every time the same amount of implementing the habit of always being paid. 

The usual way of learning goes like this.

  • Step 1: Criticize or judge past behavior
  • Step 2: Tell yourself to change, instructing with word commands repeatedly
  • Step 3: Try hard; make yourself do it right
  • Step 4: Critical judgment about results leading to a self 1 vicious cycle.

Meanwhile, the subconscient inner game way of learning is as follows.

  • Step 1: Observe existing behavior without judgment.
  • Step 2: Imagine your desired outcome. Dig by yourself to learn what it really takes to be where you want to be. 
  • Step 3: Let it happen by trusting and building a proper self 2.
  • Step 4: Non judgmental, calm observation of the results leading to continuing observation and learning.

In trading a non judgmental observation is when we don’t care about the outcome of a single trade , instead we care of  a series per trade. That’s what allow us to become profitables even if we have a heavy losing series per trade. 

How to really trust in your self 2? 

Focus is effortless and relaxed. It is the act of “keeping the mind now and here”. Pick one thing to focus on – like your breath – stick with it. The only way to improve focus is through practice. “Every time your mind starts to leak away, simply bring it gently back.”

In trading you can focus for example in just executing without even predict just by react. Focus in  proper trades with a strict money management. 

You can focus in executing only high probability trades : trending trade at volatility peak in a strong macro buy or sell zone risking the same amount every time.

It’s just an example , it’s up to you to find your own focus 

Gallwey defines winning as “overcoming obstacles to reach a goal, but the value in winning is only as great as the value of the goal reached. He emphasizes the process can be more rewarding than the result itself.

Gallwey say:

“When I’m concerned only about winning, I’m caring about something that I can’t wholly control. Whether I win or lose the external game is a result of my opponent’s skill and effort as well as my own.”

If you use that quote in trading it will be translated like that: 

When I’m concerned about winning or making money , I’m caring about something I cannot control, I cannot control the markets . Whether I win or lose the external game is a result of a random outcome in a probabilistic environment that I cannot control . Does it make sense? 

the only thing you can fully control is your position size . Even mentors sharing trades cannot control parameters that will bring you the 80% of the results. 

Now let’s talk about obstacles.

“When it comes to overcoming obstacles, there are three kinds of people. The first kind sees most obstacles as insurmountable and walks way. The second kind sees an obstacle and says, I can overcome it, and starts to dig under, climb over, or blast through it. The third type of person, before deciding to overcome the obstacle, tries to find a viewpoint where what is on the other side of the obstacle can be seen. Then, only if the reward is worth the effort, does he attempt to overcome the obstacle.”

How to properly find the flow? 

As the Author say 

“Stability grows as I learn to accept what I cannot control and take control of what I can.”

In order to find the flow you must adapt the proper challenge according to your skills and so your experience

The challenge is essential to get in the flow . Flow is when our skills needs a challenge but they do not create anxiety. 

Let’s understand the previous image:  when we have high challenges and low skills we are in a situation of anxiety and so we out perform because we are being emotional.  This is a clear example of the average retail trader risking a lot of money without the proper experience. 

this is a clear example of a trader executing a improper lot size for the account size.

This is a clear example of those traders trying the ftmo challenge without even being profitable.

this is the clear example of those traders gambling….

I’m sorry to say this but they will be stuck there for years because they will outperform.

Let us tell you something , you cannot jump steps . You cannot drive a lambo if you don’t even know how to drive.

By other side , when we have a lot of skills but we do not have challenge we are playing safe. we are in a confort zone and nothing grow there. you must embrace the proper challenge in order to avoid boredom .

The flow is where challenge and skills are at the same level. 

This information is  not made for the average retail trader, make sure to click the link below to bring your trading to the next level