Jul

3

Andy Murray's defeat against Nadal today reminded me of the final battle scene in film 'The Last Samurai', and of dying with honour.

It was evident early on that Murray hadn't fully recovered from his four hour marathon battle against Gasquet. His tiredness showed through and he was not his usual dynamic self. In contrast, Nadal was firing on all cylinders and then some. He just didn't let Murray into the game. Nadal's grass court play has come leaps and bounds this year and - from the perspective of my armchair - he doesn't have an obvious weakness that can be readily exploited. His backhand shots can't be differentiated from his forehand shots, and he certainly can't be relied on to trip himself up. Indeed, I think Nadal produced a mere ten unforced errors in the entire three sets. We are not there yet, but it looks like the championship is shaping up for another Nadal-Federer face-off, which will be a true test of finesse versus physicality. I think Nadal has what it takes at least to make Roger Federer produce a bead of sweat, something I haven't seen from him so far in this competition.

Getting back to Murray's defeat, I believe there are a few things we can take away from this. In the middle of the match, Murray won a point but it was called wrongly 'out' by a line judge. The umpire immediately over-ruled and the point was called 'let' and played again. Murray complained about the poor line call, but he got straight back to business. In the bad old days, this would have sent Murray into a spiral of agitation, where he would project blame externally and allow this negativity to feed on itself. Not this time. I was impressed. The world is not against us. We accept responsibility not only for our actions, but also for events that are outside of our control. It is not personal. We get on with it.

Leading on from this, because Murray succeeded in keeping his mental game in check, there was very little psychological noise, or interference, in the match, and Murray will be able to watch the tape and compare his true game against Nadal's. He will be able to see the weaknesses in his game play far more clearly, which will give him something to work on in future. It's simply more productive. Okay, so Murray may never be 'the' best, but he will certainly get closer to achieving 'his' best, which is what it is all about. In the world of amateur trading, many traders who produce losses believe these losses are not due to their trading game/strategy, but that they are a result of psychological weaknesses. Their self-talk says, 'I can still pick 'em, I just need to cut my losses earlier'. Personally, I believe most people are fooling themselves by thinking that the person (mental approach) is weak, when it is their trading game (strategy) that is weak, and they really have no edge in the business of trading. The idea that 'I should have held on for longer', or 'if only I had sold these stocks more quickly' is false, because it is working backwards, a bit like saying 'if only I had picked the right lottery numbers'. If you have a strictly quantitative, or automated trading approach, there is no need to try and disentangle the psychological element from one's trading strategy because it isn't a feature. However, because I use a qualitative approach, I wanted to try and separate my mental game from my trading game. For a long time, I would jot down a 'behavioural score' when I opened and closed a trade. It's was a simple 'marks out ten' scoring system, with a low score for doubling up, lowering stops, etc, and a high score for trading rationally, with a well thought out plan. Over time, I realised that the correlation between profits and a high behavioural score was surprisingly weak, but the point was not the correlation, but that a low score had a higher chance of producing those, rare, extreme losses. The simple act of keeping a behavioural score has led to greater self-control, and I now believe I have a clearer image of my true game. I relate to Murray in that being 'my best' is a far cry from being 'the best'. There is no 'I should have been less greedy', or any other such excuse. My game is simply not strong enough. But that's okay, because the journey has been one of self-discovery, and it has been a success of sorts, irrespective of my what the ledger says!


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