Steve Ward's first book "High Performance Trading ? 35 Practical Strategies and Techniques to Enhance Your Trading Psychology and Performance" is a practical guide designed to help traders improve their performance and psychology and thus achieve high performance on a sustained basis. The book is divided into three major sections representing the three areas of the performance cycle: planning and preparation, execution, evaluation and analysis. They are the core components forenjoying enduring success ? not only in trading, but wherever people have to perform. That covers sport as well. Not for nothing does Ward keep comparing top traders in his book with top athletes, markedly emphasising the similarities they share on their way to a successful performance.
Based on his many years of experience as a psychologist and coach for top traders and top athletes, Ward is a real expert in the fields of trading and sport. Who else could compare these two types of people better than he does? Both in trading and in sport long-term success depends on the right planning and preparation, proper execution and discipline and correct evaluation and analysis. What these three components are all about and how traders carry them out correctly will be elaborated on in the following.
Planning and Preparation
As mentioned earlier, High Performance Trading is divided into three major sections. In the first part called ?Planning and Preparation for Trading Success? the reader learns how to prepare for success and how to use opportunities to his advantage. With that in mind, Ward first explains what trading basically means and how to become a trader; i.e. - among many other things - which skills one should have and what kind of responsibility one has to assume. One other extremely important component on the way to being a successful trader is constant self-motivation. Traders must be aware of their own motivation and again and again have the mental strength to recover from losses. In addition, Ward shows how traders can clearly define their goals and apply them to their practical trading. This enables the reader to gradually develop a strategy of his own and create a suitable environment for high performance.
The second part of the book is called ?Decision-making, Discipline and Flawless Execution?. In it, Ward shows practical approaches to making more effective trading decisions, improving one?s own discipline and thus developing a strategy that can be carried out flawlessly. To be successful as a trader requires a great deal of discipline. For example, it is necessary to strictly adhere to one?s trading rules and to carefully evaluate one?s performance at the end of each and every trading day. This requires discipline, particularly so after a bad day at the end of which one just wants to go straight to bed. Besides that, it is the author?s view that traders must be capable of dealing confidently with distractions and surprises such as large price gaps and of staying calm even under great pressure. While it is true that this is frequently difficult ? especially for neophytes -, it is of utmost importance in order to avoid making a gross error and to survive a bad day with a minimum amount of damage. Of course, the old stock-market adage ?Let profits run, limit losses? must not be left out of a book like this. Ward explains why this phrase is often turned upside down in reality and how best to avoid that. For one thing, it is important for traders to accept losses as an integral part of trading and to try and learn from them. And for another, it is also important for a strict risk and money management regimen to be applied. How this works is also explained to the reader.
According to Ward, another key factor to being a successful trader is the time component. In his opinion, a trader must stay in the market long enough to be able to exit profitably. After all, success will not come overnight. It usually takes several years before anyone can call themselves a successful trader.
Evaluation and Analysis
In the third part of the book called ?Evaluation, Analysis, Improvement and Maintenance of Performance? the author explains how to calculate and evaluate one?s trading performance. This allows traders to receive the necessary feedback in order to find out what was good and less than good about their trading approach and what should be improved upon and left out in the future. Subsequently, the reader learns how to improve his performance and change his trading behaviour in order to become a better trader in the end.
Since ?High Performance Trading? is a practical guide for traders, Ward provides a list of suggestions on how to develop a winning routine and winning rituals. He holds the view that it is especially important for traders to stick to certain rituals of one?s own, such as always getting up and going to bed at the same time or regularly engaging in sport. The idea behind this is to have a sense of steadiness in one?s trading. After all, in contrast to markets that defy any control, those rituals may very well be controlled resulting in a certain continuity which in turn provides a sense of security. In addition, such rituals teach traders to better cope with stress and develop the ability to work under a great deal of pressure.
Beyond that, the author presents some high performance techniques especially for decisive and exciting trading days and provides numerous useful trading tips. Furthermore, the book includes a multitude of mental (psychological) exercises and stress-reducing techniques for breathing, focussing, visualising and blanking out negative thoughts.
?High Performance Trading? is a user?s manual for traders containing practical and useful approaches, strategies and techniques that can be integrated into one?s own trading in order to improve one?s current performance. Steve Ward provides practical and easy-to-follow advice for every kind of trader. Regardless of whether you wish to improve your trading skills and your performance or to achieve a higher level of development in your trading, this book offers some extremely valuable suggestions and inspiration.
Especially worth mentioning is Steve Ward?s pleasant and entertaining style. Throughout his book, his writing is well-structured and easy to follow, peppered time and again for a change of pace, with informal sayings and quotations. All the chapters are short and to the point with helpful tips thrown in. Beyond that, Ward conveys to the reader a basically positive mood causing him to get the sense that he can actually succeed in improving his performance and elevating it to a high level.
However, the author makes it quite clear that not every strategy or technique is suitable for each trader. His objective is rather to provide the reader with a plan enabling him to learn on a step-by-step basis to systematically improve his trading and his performance. In doing so, he is not meant to apply each detail on a one-to-one basis but to be given suggestions for him to sensibly integrate into his trading. According to the author, ?High Performance Trading? is a reference book that the reader is intended to draw upon whenever he needs a good idea, strategy or technique in a particular situation.