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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Getting Prepared for the Trading Day

Getting Prepared for the Trading Day

With the great challenge of facing the stock market each day and the hope of pulling money out of it on a regular basis, a trader can do few things more important than prepare adequately. It should be no secret that many of the brightest minds in the world are at work to make their living in the stock market, and such competition cannot be taken lightly! Furthermore, while traders should not be in the prediction business, we must certainly have a game plan.

As time progresses, a trader will inevitably learn from his mistakes. This experience is the foundation for laying out a game plan in preparation for the trading day. Merely being a student of the market and of one’s own results will teach a trader to react certain ways to market conditions or events. It is this foundation which should be built upon in order for the trader to elevate his game to the next level (and it IS a game).

In order to develop a trading plan, a trader must begin with his personal style in mind. Swing trading involves a plan that may evolve over the course of a few days to a few weeks, while day trading can be faster-paced and more spontaneous. Personality, patience, and profit objectives will play a large role in which style of trading one may wish to employ, but the trader should choose his method as he plans for success.

Once the trading style is known, the trader must take into account current market conditions. Are recent days or weeks characterized by lasting trends, or by narrow ranges and choppy action? Knowing the answer to this question will put you miles ahead of many other traders who walk in each morning without taking current conditions into consideration. The market will catch you off guard as it changes its rhythm or volatility, but recent history serves as a guide until things change. This means choppy, low-volume, range-bound markets should likely be approached with smaller positions and the expectation of taking profit more quickly and in one piece. A trending market with larger range days and greater volume allow the trader to take bigger positions in hopes of scaling out in pieces as the market moves in the trader’s profitable direction.

Whether after the market closes or early in the day prior to the market’s open, some time should be spent determining an IF/THEN strategy for the upcoming session. By screening for a handful of potential trades, the decision-making process is simplified and a plan is easier to carry out.

Consider finding a list of trade candidates for both the long and short side of the market, setting specific entry and exit prices, and then simply execute that plan. IF the long candidates rise to your entry prices, THEN purchase them. IF the short candidates break the levels of support you see, THEN short-sell them. IF none of your trade candidates trigger their entry prices, THEN do nothing! This kind of game plan will allow you to effectively respond to market conditions without having to predict direction or hope to be bailed out of losing positions. Approaching the market with the IF/THEN mentality also will help the trader to execute a plan, rather than fight the emotional urges to find excitement or force trades. Sometimes things will work exactly as planned and other times the market will whipsaw you right out of positions. Meeting the market with a game plan and sticking with it will undoubtedly allow the trader to work with less stress and emotion, which are two of the worst negative forces that traders face.

Feeling well physically is a very important trait which must be present for a trader to profit. Staying healthy and rested allows the trader to work with a clear mind and focus on the task at hand. Additionally, personal relationships can play a large role in a trader’s effectiveness. When life is rocky away from the trading screens, the successful trader must be willing to cut back on trading size or even back away from the market entirely. A prideful ego will not only cause rough waters on the home front with relationships, but it will also damage the trading account! A clear conscience allows quality rest and a fresh start each morning for returning to the market sharp and ready. Make the most of your weekends to catch up on personal to-do’s and relaxation. When Monday arrives, if you aren’t at your best, don’t expect your trading to be!

Finally, as the morning breaks and the market’s opening nears, follow a routine to get into the proper state of mind for following your plan. This may include reading up on current events, reviewing your charts one final time, grabbing your morning caffeine, or listening to your favorite song. Whatever it is, find what works for you when it comes to getting into the best mindset to extract profits from the market. Remember, the competition is serious and fierce, sharp-minded, and most of all, prepared. You should be too!"





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