Putting Yourself In A Position To Win

Not
much to say about the market today.
After sharply running higher for
over a month, the major indices took a few days to drift lower/sideways on
decreasing volume. That looked to continue for a while today before a late-day
rally had the indices surge to new highs. As I like to do at the end of each
month, I will be giving my complete market overview on Wednesday. Assuming
nothing too dramatic and negative happens between now and then, here’s a preview
— things look good.

Now let’s talk about football…

As the Super Bowl hype
continues to build I’m starting to get excited about the local Patriots. On a
national scale, for most of the season the Patriots were not viewed as serious
Super Bowl contenders. Flashier, supposedly more talented teams like Kansas
City, St. Louis, and Indianapolis were grabbing the headlines while everyone
figured the Patriots were “good, but not great.” No star receiver. No star
running back. A quarterback that is probably better than most people give him
credit for, but did not make the Pro-bowl. They’ve now won 14 games in a row.
They’ve won high scoring shootouts and low-scoring shutouts, close games, and
blowouts. They’re one win away from their ultimate goal. So how has a team
with so few superstars been able to overcome adversity (cutting Lawyer Milloy
just before the opener), injury (too many to list) and their own physical
limitations to put themselves in this position?

When the players are asked
after each game what made the difference against that week’s particular
opponent, there is one thing I always hear them mention. Preparation. They
were well prepared for what the other team was going to do. The coaching staff
built a game plan that allowed them to take advantage of the opponents’
tendencies and through practice and proper preparation the Patriots were able to
execute that plan well enough to come away with a victory. In his post game
press conference last week, coach Belichick mentioned one of the key players in
their victory over the Colts in the AFC title game was Damon Huard. Damon Huard
is the backup quarterback who didn’t set foot on the field the whole day. Coach
Belichick said that it was Huard’s job of playing the role of Colts quarterback
Peyton Manning in practice that helped the defense to prepare for this game.
It’s not too often that you hear a player who never gets off the bench receive
kudos for the victory, but the Patriots understand that the most important
aspect of being able to go out, execute well, and come away with a victory, is
preparation. The better prepared you are, the easier it is to execute your game
plan.

Although I’d love to continue
to add to the Super Bowl hype, this article isn’t all about football. The same
principles of preparation being the key to execution are true in trading. Some
traders claim they make most of their money within the first hour of trading.
Others say they typically make their best gains in the last hour of trading. I
believe most of my money is made at night — 12 hours or more before the market
even opens. It is my nightly preparation that allows me to best execute my
trades. During the trading day, like the Patriots during a game, I may need to
make some adjustments, but the major part of the plan has been formulated and
prepped for well ahead of time. Most of my trading day is simply consumed with
executing that plan. The more decisions I can make ahead of time, with a clear
head, and not during the heat of battle, the easier it is to manage my
positions. It is also much less stressful than trying to make major trading
decisions while the market is screaming higher or lower and I have alarms going
off all around me.

I don’t know if the Patriots
are going to win on Sunday, and I don’t whether my next trade, or week or even
month is going to be profitable, but I do know that in any of these cases,
losses won’t be due to lack of preparation. Through proper preparation, like
the Patriots, traders should be able to put themselves in a position to win.

Best of luck with your trading,
and go Pats!

Rob Hanna


robhanna@rcn.com

P.S. I apologize to those of
you whom I owe emails. I will get to them in the next couple of days.

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