Forex Trading Tips: Football and Trading

Football and Trading

(For all our clients outside of North American my apologies in advance for using such an American football laden metaphor in this week’s piece. But this is Super Bowl week in US and I couldn’t resist. Don’t worry if have trouble understanding the references focus on the main point that in American football just as in soccer the team that spends more time in the opposition territory usually wins.)

Although I was born in Russia I was raised in America, growing up in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. Soccer was and always will be my first love, but like every red blooded American boy I was taught to appreciate the joys of American football. When I was growing up the Redskins were kings of the game and their leader was Joe Theisman – a man so obsessed with appearances that he changed the pronunciation of his last name (it was originally pronounced “theeesman”, but he wanted it to rhyme with Heisman).

With his perfect blow dry hair, dimpled smile and shirtless workouts Joe Theisman was the quintessential pretty boy athlete. But Theisman was not just pretty, he was smart, he was tough and he knew that above all else control was the key to success in the long term. Unlike other quarterbacks who would throw away the ball on a hopeless third and long, Theisman would always try his best to gain a few more yards even if he couldn’t make first down.

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Theisman understood the importance of field position. He knew that all things being equal the team that came closest to the goalpost the most during the game had the highest chance of winning. Underneath his Ken doll image, Joe Theisman had the steely determination of a great quarterback and he took the Redskins to a Super Bowl win in 1983.

The reality cannot be more different . Markets are actually quite rational, but that rationality is based on the sentiment of the crowd. Your job as a trader is to figure out the most likely path of the crowd given current market conditions.

Why do I tell you all this? Its Super Bowl week in US and the memories of Joe Theisman (who by the way retired after suffering the “most shocking injury in NFL history” after Lawrence Taylor snapped his leg in two like a wishbone, thus forever dispelling the pretty boy image) made me realize how much we can learn from his example.

If you imagine trading as a football game and pretend that your account is the field then you can see how Theisman’s philosophy applies to us. What the purpose of the quarterback ? To move the football towards the goal line. What’ s our purpose as traders? To increase the equity of the account.

Theisamn understood that he wasn’t going to score every time he got the ball but he made sure that he put his team in the best position possible when he walked off the field. To us as traders that means that we must always leave our account in the best financial shape possible every time we close out the books. Theisman never gave up an inch more than he had to and neither should we when trade. This week at BK was a good example of this philosophy in action. The market were difficult, the data was unpredictable and yet we managed to eke out two winning trades by making sure that we booked profits early and never gave them back.

If you start thinking about trading as a football game it becomes much less stressful. If every trade is simply a series of downs then one trade is not that important. Do football players cry like little babies every time a series goes wrong? No. they bounce back and regroup because they know that as long as there is time on the clock there is always an opportunity to score. Traders on the other hand can turn apoplectic at the sign of one or two or three consecutive stop outs. Yet we should remember that trading is a football game with no clock. As long you protect your position (by keeping your equity alive) you always have a chance to come back an fight another day.

The trading lessons of Joe Theisman hold true now just as they did then. Never lose more than you have to, stay in the game to the end and always try to move the ball to goal line (trade to profit) in order to give yourself the best possible chance for success.

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