Have you ever seen a professional athlete taking part in the Olympics without training for years before that? Probably not.
Would you be willing to go to the surgery room with a surgeon that finished medical school only yesterday? Not a chance.
High Performance Fields
If you want to excel in any performance field, it requires that you do a lot of studying and training, and gain experience. Only then will you be able to become a professional in your domain.
One of the things high-performance professionals do, which makes them better than their counterparts or opponents, is mental training. Top athletes and top traders put a great emphasis on their mentality, because they know that what truly stands in their way to becoming the greatest is their limiting thoughts and beliefs.
But there are two main differences between top athletes and top traders when it comes to mental training:
(1) Physical Vs. Mental Skills
Whereas in sports the physical aspect is at least as important as the mental aspect—and even much more important at early stages—in trading the mental aspect is more important at most stages. As an athlete, if you are not physically and technically capable of performing, the mental side won’t matter.
Most of the training is first and foremost physical—running faster, jumping higher, shooting or serving a ball more accurately. Only once the athlete is good enough to participate in tournaments, and the pressure starts building up, do professional athletes put more emphasis on the mental aspect as well, working with sports psychologists and mental coaches.
Basic trading doesn’t require many technical skills, and no physical skills at all. All a trader needs to do in order to experience one winning trade is to click on the buy or sell buttons.
Of course, you need to have an edge in the market in order to make money over time, but in order to really become consistently successful, you need more than an edge. Once you have found a trading strategy that works, and understood the principles of risk management, you mostly need to work on your trading psychology and your mentality.
Without a proper trading mentality—the one that professional traders possess—the chances that you will experience consistent positive results in your trading are very slim.
(2) Working With A Coach
Athletes are used to working with trainers and coaches. Competitive sports training, in particular, is always done with a trainer or a coach, and in most cases as part of a group or a team, even if it’s individual sports.
This is why when athletes become more professional and want to reach their full potential, it’s obvious to them that they need a mentality coach as well.
Most traders, on the other hand, rarely work with trainers and coaches at all. They take an online trading course, sit at home, and start trading with no guidance—coping all alone with the pressure of losing money and constantly making decisions from the early stages of their trading journey.
The traders, who understand the importance of mental coaching, are the ones that really become consistently profitable and make it to the top. Usually these traders learn how to trade in a trading firm, and if it’s a serious firm, it provides mental coaching to its traders.
A Winner’s Mindset
In the video below—a Tedx lecture by professor Martin Hagger—he provides an overview of the kinds of techniques that elite athletes use to prepare psychologically for their sport.
According to professor Hagger, at the highest level, athletes are well-matched in terms of their physical abilities and skills. However, although their skills and abilities are at the highest level, it is not always enough to win and perform on the top tournaments like the Olympic games.
Developing strategies and techniques to get athletes minds in the best possible condition for optimal performance is increasingly important for sports teams and coaches.
Sport psychology – inside the mind of champion athletes: Martin Hagger at TEDxPerth
Professor Hagger concludes that in order to become a winner, one has to have a winner’s mindset, which consists of the following:
- Feeling motivated
- Being confident in one’s abilities, training, and preparation
- Managing pressure well
- Using well-drilled techniques to prepare:
A Winning Mentality Framework
If you want to become a top trader, you must think like a pro. If you want to reach the “Trading Olympics”, you have to train on all aspects of trading, among which trading mentality is the primary aspect.
In addition to the 4 points listed above, you should work on becoming aware of your blind spots and cope with your biases and thought patterns.
In addition, you have to learn how to build a winning mentality framework that includes the following things before-, during-, and after-trading:
- Before: Effective Preparation
- Goal setting
- During: Skillful Execution
- After: Constructive Evaluation
To summarize, becoming a professional trader is not as easy as one may think. Most traders start trading after taking a basic crash-course on how to trade in the financial markets, and expect to start making money instantly.
Trading, just like any other performance field, requires many months and years of learning, training, and mentoring or coaching. If you really want to become a professional trader, you have to take it seriously like any professional athlete does.