Traders Ask: What is a Competitive Trader?

BellaGeneral Comments2 Comments


I hear a lot about the value of a competitiveness in trading success. Analogies are made with the striving for peak performance seen in athletes and entrepreneurs. One thing about this puzzles me, and I’d appreciate the thoughts of others with more experience and success.

When I trade I am trying to get better: to make good trades and, inhibit the tendencies to make bad ones. So, I am competing but it is only with myself.

Looking at trading as a game, like a sport,  there is the mental and physical preparation: watching the market, identifying levels, getting a feel for the price action. But unlike sport when it comes to actually making a play I am not driven by any competitive feelings against the other players. For me it is about identifying patterns, waiting for a signal that buying/selling pressure is building in the direction of my premise,  measuring the risk, and setting some likely target if the trade works out.

So instead of competing I more get the sense that I am collaborating with the main movers of the market in whatever the time frame in focus.

Thoughts anyone?

I get that a trader might compete with others to get recognition or more money, but within the pure act of making good trades, where is the competition?


In my next book I discuss the faux competitiveness of a trader. There are those tales of Michael Jordan hating to lose at anything, even ping pong. You might hear a weekend golfer claiming to be competitive for hating to lose a Nassau. This is ego. This is not being competitive. Wanting to win at something that you are not working significant hours daily to build skill is ameliorating your ego.

I worked with a prop firm in Capetown at the start of this year that was mainly comprised of former competitive tennis players. The philosophy of the co-founder of the firm is that to be a good intraday trader you must have the ability to fight. If you ever sit near GMan he is a spot on example. When down GMan will fight tick for tick to get back his money.  He does not give up like many when the market first offers losses and rejection. You might say he keeps returning the serve of the market until he finds some winners. There is where competitiveness can help being a good intraday trader.

Mostly competitiveness for a trader is shown before and after the market. Do you do a daily review? Do you watch tape of your trading open to improve your Reading the Tape skills? Do you archive a playbook trade of a set up that made the most sense to you each trading session? Do you talk to like traders about set ups? Do you keep a journal of your psychology during the trading day? Do you do a weekly review? A monthly review? Do you crunch your trading stats after the close to find the plays you should eliminate? Do you read market stories so you understand what is moving the markets? If you do, then you are a competitive trader.

Some will argue that wanting to make more than the trader next to them is competitiveness. How? How is wanting to make more going to make you better? What makes you better is finding trades that offer an excellent risk/reward set up.  If by wanting to make more that fuels you to do the work that will help you find these set ups then that is helpful.  But the wanting is not competitiveness. The work building your trading skill is competitiveness.

Competitiveness is being as good as you can at a craft. Competitiveness is not being better than someone else. We all spend way too much time worrying about others.  That person has a bigger house. That person has a nice car. Most then start tearing down that other with more instead of focusing on improving themselves. Come on we are all guilty of this.

Good for that other person. I never understand why people tear down others who have more. That person is your friend.  You know someone who is doing well. That is good for you. That should give you data that you can do well also. First you need to start figuring out all the things you need to do to improve. And then do them! This is the hard part: the doing.  And then spend your time executing and not lost in ego-filled faux competition.

But those are just my thoughts, my world view. Your thoughts?


One Good Trade

2 Comments on “Traders Ask: What is a Competitive Trader?”

  1. You basically reinforced his point. His point is that the competitiveness is against himself – and he’s right.

    In trading, and in life, we compete against ourselves to do our best. There really is no competition versus others as each persons situation is unique. The playing field is always different for each person. 

    The goal should be to be the best YOU can be and not the best someone else can be.

  2. “Everything You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know About Competitive Trading”. 

    I like your point that the competition mostly takes place in the work done before and after the market, when lazy habits beckon loudest. I have some more tasks to add to my To Do list. 

    Competition is secondary to the fight within oneself. The protagonist and antagonist are one. This is so widely misunderstood. I guess this is perhaps why trading is such a widely misunderstood business.Competing  to become a better trader is seriously tough, I have never worked so hard at anything IN MY LIFE. And I don’t do it to become a “bigger” person  – 1.70m and 75kg is big enough for me!Through doing the work involved in becoming a better trader, I find I become a better husband, friend, father…worthy competitions indeed.

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