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Roger Federer’s Mental Toughness on the Court as an Analogy for Succeeding in the Market

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Applying the tennis legend’s tips for the court to success in the financial market

Occasionally it’s a good idea to step back from your environment and look at different arenas which might have parallel, applicable lessons. It’s helpful to see similarities in those other worlds in order to make your understanding of what needs to be improved clearer in your brain.

So, for today’s article, we’re going to borrow some lessons from the great tennis legend, Roger Federer. In his quest towards mastering the skill of tennis, he had to overcome many different mental obstacles.

When we take a close look, we find that what he had to overcome is not so different from what we as traders have to overcome. Let’s take a look at Roger’s 7 keys for conquering the mental obstacles on the road to greatness.

It’s OK to be unmotivated

Early on his career, Roger mentioned that there were days he just couldn’t get himself up and going towards his goals. But rather than beat himself up for it, he accepted that every day can’t be expected to be a burst of energy and motivation.

Developing your trading skills will take time and the learning curve is long. It’s ok to feel a little bit defeated after a loss or less energetic after a sleepless night. Ups and downs are a natural process of learning, improving, and mastering any subject or skill.

A good way to combat hopeless despair is to refer to your trading journal from a time period of success. If you’re in a rut, it’s helpful to recall a period when you were successful in order to remind yourself that there have been successes and that it’s more than possible to succeed again.

It takes a while to figure it out

Related to the first tip on this list, if you have an intention to become great at anything, be prepared to commit for the long run.

If you’re getting into trading because you want to make a pile of money, be ready to be disappointed early on. Trading is a skill that takes months and years to cultivate and perfect. Early on in your trading career, you may feel confused or lost. It’s OK to feel this way.

As you progress, your goals and desires will become more clear to you. As long as there is a small spark constantly inside of you, pushing you in the direction of your goals, you can succeed.

Make a decision about what you want

Why are you trading and what exactly do you want to gain from trading? Come up with clear, long thought out answers for these questions and incorporate the answers into your trading plan.

With a clear and defined goal, it will be easier to stick to the plan and stay on the path towards your ultimate trading life.

Fire vs. Ice

In his understanding, Roger refers to the duality of success and failure as fire versus ice. In moments where everything is going well and he is succeeding, he likens the feeling to fire. He is alive with the energy and heat and it excites and pushes him towards his goals. On the opposite side, days which don’t turn out in his favor are referred to as ice.

As traders, we experience the same. The feeling of winning a trade and continually succeeding in the market can feel like a fireball of energy pushing us to work harder and harder in order to succeed more and more.

But when a bad trade comes, it can be paralyzing. All of our momentum can freeze up and stop. The key is to find more fire in those moments and thaw out the icey buildup.

It’s ok to be nervous but trust yourself

In the case of trading, if you trust yourself, you’ll ultimately trust your trading plan. We’ve written at length on the importance of your trading plan, so if you need to go back and review, please do.

In short, if you know you have a solid understanding and grip on what you’re plan is in the market and you are disciplined enough to execute the plan faithfully, you need to trust in the plan. A trade might miss here and there but over the long run, sticking to your trading plan is what is important. If you begin to doubt yourself, you will stumble and quickly find yourself lost.

Even a legend like Roger admits to getting nervous at times. His method for overcoming these negative emotions is to let go and trust in his talent and preparation. The same should apply to you if you find yourself agonizing or anxiously fearing potential market movements.

Always try to find the positive

When we watch Roger on the tennis court, we’re only seeing the tip of all of the incredibly grueling work he had put in prior to that moment on television. We don’t see the endless hours of balls hit into the net or practice serves missing the box.

But as Roger explains, while we want to be perfect 100% of the time, in reality it’s an impossible standard. If we accept that we are going to have failures here and there, we can then work to extract the positive from each failure.

As you trade, you two will fail. It is an undeniable part of trading and the sooner you learn to accept it and learn from your mistakes the better. When you accept failure as part of the journey to success, it becomes easier to extract positive lessons from the missteps.

Try your best

Finally, Roger tells us to always try our best. If we succeed while trying our best, we know we’ve earned something special. If we fail while not giving 100% then there is no one to blame for our failure but ourselves.

If you do give 100%, there is never any reason to doubt yourself or fall into a retrospective pity party as to why things didn’t work out. There is much pleasure in knowing you tried your best. If you fail while doing so, go back to your trading plan and see what needs to be changed or tweaked. If you need to learn more, do so. Whatever it takes, pick yourself up and give it the best effort you can.

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