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Traders can do what athletes can’t

There’s a post on one of the BabyPips blogs which discusses the comparisons between elite athletes and successful traders. I will definitely not deny that there’s a lot in athletics which carries over well into trading. The aforementioned post mentions some of them:

  • Competitiveness
  • Solid “fundamentals”
  • Emotional toughness
  • Focus on continuous improvement

Here’s where the author comes up a bit short in his analysis, though.

In sports the thing which tends to differentiate elite athletes from the rest is physical. The author uses basketball in his examples. Let’s face it, though. You can be the fiercest competitor, have rock solid fundamentals, be emotionally tough, and constantly work to improve your skills, but if you’re short with no jump and slow afoot you’re not going to make the NBA. Flipping that around, if you’re 7’+ you can get away with short-comings in many other areas and still have a good career.

I bring this up because the features noted above can be found in athletes at all levels. I certainly saw them in college volleyball players I coached, though none of them had the physical tools to be All Americans or National Teamers. That doesn’t mean they did not have enjoyable, satisfying careers, though. They just had to focus on getting the most out of what they had in the context of their limitations. In sports the mental stuff can separate an individual from others with comparable physical tools, just as superior physical abilities can separate an individual from peers with similar mental abilities.

This can apply to trading as well. We just need to replace the physical element with the financial one. After all, if you have a lot of money you’re able to make a lot of money from the markets, even if your rate of return isn’t very good. Flipping that around, if you’ve only got $1000 you’re not going to be able to make enough money to live on – at least not consistently or without being constantly on the edge of complete ruin.

Of course the difference in trading is that you can save up and use compounding to increase your account and maybe eventually become that 7-footer, though it takes a lot of time and effort is you’re only starting off as a 1-footer. 🙂

By John

Author of The Essentials of Trading

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