David FerrerAn article in the WSJ reports that there are certain players, Ferrer, for example, who do very well in minor tournament events but never get to the quarter finals in a major. The opposite is Serena Williams who never wins a minor but always wins the majors. One wonders how the bulls and bears of the markets are at winning on the big ones. What are the big ones and little ones? The big change days and small change days? The beginnings and ends of weeks? The days of the big announcements like yesterday. Are there hot hands that get used up after winning the majors. Once again the field of sports gives one a thousand useful hypotheses to test.

George Parkanyi writes: 

 This particular example may have to do with the ability to handle pressure. Some traders might perform quite well and consistently trading a relatively smaller amount of capital, whereas a few may be able to trade successfully in much greater size because they can stay calm and still function at a high level under the pressure of drawdowns and reversals. So position size would definitely be a big/little differentiator.

In sports, increased media scrutiny probably influences player performance. Another big/little differentiator could be the amount of external influences/distraction that might affect your decision-making. For example in a position trade, while, you're holding, you could be subjected to all sorts of external influences - economic news, personal life, someone's opinion. Let's call it noise. Will a big noise shake you out of your position? Will a series of little noises aggravate you out? Or can you hold/trade through it? Can you effectively differentiate between noise and something materially important?

Steve Ellison writes:

I once read a suggestion that golfers practice coming through under pressure by not allowing themselves to finish practice until they make 25 consecutive three-foot putts. The 24th and 25th putts simulate high-pressure situations as the golfer has to start all over if he misses.

In football, Joe Montana had an incredible knack for winning the big one. This trait was in evidence as early as his sophomore year at Notre Dame, when he came off the bench a few times and led comebacks from multi-touchdown deficits. Montana was probably an average athlete by NFL quarterback standards, certainly not as gifted as Dan Marino or John Elway. Yet, when he met these men in Super Bowls, Montana came away the winner.

As a counterexample, the San Francisco Giants had a pitcher who was notorious for coming apart under pressure. He was good enough to appear in the All-Star game, but gave up a grand slam in the game. I groaned when this pitcher was named as the starter for game 7 of the league championship series, knowing what would happen; sure enough, it did.


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