Trade At Your Best

Trade At Your Best explores how you can train your mind, brain and body so you can achieve your trading potential

Podcast host, Steve Ward, is one of the world’s leading experts on trading performance and trading psychology and has been working with trading talent at major investment banks, hedge funds, investment firms, commodities trading houses, energy companies and utilities, and proprietary trading groups across the globe since 2005.

During that time Steve has helped thousands of traders to develop the mental, emotional and physical skills required to overcome the challenges that trading the markets can bring for any trader such as dealing with losses and losing runs; managing emotions such as fear, anxiety and overconfidence; managing risk effectively; dealing with uncertainty, novelty and volatility; reducing decision making biases; navigating changing and challenging market conditions; being patient; overcoming hesitation and overtrading; and dealing with stress and fatigue.

The podcast episodes provide a combination of knowledge, insights and actions drawn from research and practice in the fields of psychology, decision science, neuroscience, peak performance and physiology, combined with Steve’s real life experience of what actually works with his clients on the trading floor – blending the science and the art of enhancing trading performance.

Latest podcast episode

Episode 10

Trade At Your Best Series 1 Highlights

In this episode we take a look back over the first series of ‘Trade At Your Best’ and review and revisit the main topics and techniques that were discussed.

Key themes covered include…

  • Mastering trading – the process of becoming a better trader
  • Developing situational awareness – training the mental muscle of trading discipline
  • What is a good trading decision – why it is important to focus on your trading process and not your P&L
  • Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable – overcoming loss aversion, ambiguity aversion, fear of regret, fear of loss and the fear of being wrong
  • The psychology of losing – developing a mental framework to deal with losses more effectively
  • Managing uncertainty – strategies for managing not knowing
  • How to work with your trading emotions – a 3 step process for managing your trading emotions
  • Trading mind, trading body – how to optimise your brains decision making capability by managing your physiology
  • Discipline 2.0 - why being too disciplined may be costing you money, and the 4 components of Discipline 2.0
PDF Transcript

Previous podcast episodes

Episode 9

Trading Discipline 2.0 - Committed Action and Flexible Response

The topic of discipline comes up in almost every workshop or training session that I deliver to my trading clients and is often defined as ‘have a plan, and trade the plan’.
However, this traditional model of discipline may have limitations, it may be too rigid for performing in the dynamic nature of the markets.
In fact, I have seen many traders lose out on P&L by being too disciplined.

What is the alternative?
Discipline 2.0 – a combination of committed action, traditional discipline, but with an element of flexibility, of fluidity.
In this episode I discuss trading discipline 1.0, present a case for 2.0 and share four key factors that I believe are key to maximising market returns.

Key themes covered include…

  • Discipline 1.0 – have a plan, trade the plan
  • Why being disciplined may be costing you money – rigidity v flexibility
  • Why old school discipline may be useful for new traders and those developing new strategies
  • Flexible response – a key psychological skill for maximising your trading results, shared with high performance in sports, and in military combat
  • Discipline 2.0 – a new paradigm
  • Committed action, the power of process and the 6 P’s
  • The importance of developing the psychological skills for managing your thoughts, emotions and actions
  • Situational awareness – developing the skill to separate responding to the market from reacting to me
  • Behavioural flexibility – no plan survives first contact
PDF Transcript

Episode 8

Trading Mind, Trading Body - The Physiology of Trading Performance

The mind, brain and body are all connected, and they work together when you are taking risk and making trading decisions – there is no mind-body split, that is an outdated notion. How you are feeling physically has a big impact on your brains ability to take risk and make good trading decisions. In this episode I look at the research around the brain-body connection and its impact on decision making, discuss my own physiological research with traders and talk about how you can build a strong physiology through specific performance lifestyle practices.

Key themes covered include…

  • Decision fatigue and the embodied brain
  • Why you need to train physical capacity to maximise trading capability
  • Fatigue and decision-making research
  • My own experience of assessing the physiological state of traders on their trading performance and decision making
  • The importance building a strong physiological platform to trade from
  • Sleep, risk taking and decision making
  • Recovery – why switching off to switch on at the desk is key to sustaining high performance trading
  • Nutrition – key principles for fuelling the trading brain for enhanced decision making
  • Physical activity and enhancing cognitive function
  • Building a performance lifestyle
PDF Transcript

Episode 7

How To Work With Your Trading Emotions

Emotions are a much discussed topic amongst traders. From the early days of my work with traders I have heard many times from clients the desire to be able to trade without emotion, but the research into the brain and decision making suggests that this would not be a desirable goal for traders.

In this episode we look at the role that emotions play in traders decision making, the latest neuroscience research around the brain and decision making, and I share with you a 3-step process for working with your emotions more effectively.

Key themes covered include…

  • Why the goal to trade without emotions may be a fruitless one
  • Neuro-emotion, a new paradigm – the neuroscience of emotions and decision making, what traders need to know
  • Shifting from controlling emotions to working with emotions
  • A case study – how one client worked with his anxiety to significantly enhance his trading performance
  • A 3-step process for working more effectively with your emotions in trading
  • Developing emotional awareness, and a quick and powerful way to manage your emotional reactions
  • Emotions as data – emotional analysis, a new indicator?
  • Harnessing the energy of emotions for improved trading performance
PDF Transcript

Episode 6

Managing Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a core feature of trading the markets, and combined with taking risk it provides a challenging decision making environment for traders to operate within. In this episode we look at our human aversion to uncertainty, why being able to manage uncertainty effectively is key to achieving your trading potential, and I share several practical strategies to help you to manage uncertainty more effectively within your own trading including changing your mental framework and a paradoxical technique of ‘planned uncertainty’.

Key themes covered include…

  • Ambiguity aversion – why we like avoiding uncertainty
  • Why becoming a successful trader requires you to embrace uncertainty
  • The uncertainty paradox – traders like variety, but are not as keen on uncertainty
  • Embracing uncertainty – why acceptance beats aversion for traders
  • The power of adopting an ‘impermanence mindset’ to get comfortable with uncertainty
  • How the threat and anxiety of uncertainty can be flipped to opportunity and excitement
  • Planned uncertainty – a mental strategy for managing uncertainty
  • The pre-mortem – a back to the future style strategy for improving trading decision making
PDF Transcript

Episode 5

The Psychology of Losing

Losses and losing runs happen to all traders no matter how good they are – they are a feature of trading the markets, a part of the game. However, some traders are better at taking and dealing with their losses than others, and how you deal with your losses can have a big impact on your trading results both in the short-term, in that trade, and over time. In this episode we look at the psychology of losing, and I share some practical strategies that can help you to manage your losses more effectively.

Key themes covered include…

  • Loss aversion, ego and other reasons why we don’t like losing
  • The importance of being able to manage losses effectively to survive the markets
  • Why all losing trades are not equal, and how to distinguish a losing trade from a bad trade
  • Bad breaks, and how one client took a difficult loss
  • The power of perception – how the response you get to a loss is function of your mindset
  • Black box thinking – how mistakes, failure and setbacks are key in creating success
  • Dealing with the emotions that show up when you lose money trading
  • Risk, position sizing and knowing your own limits
PDF Transcript

Episode 4

Getting Comfortable With The Uncomfortable

In this episode we are going to take a look at what I feel is one of the core psychological challenges facing traders, and one which underpins many of the common decisions errors such as running losses, taking profits early and not pulling the trigger ,that traders make – seeking comfort in the short term at the expense of increased returns in the long term. I finish by sharing three ideas for ways in which you can develop your own ability to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, to trade with poise.

Key themes covered include…

  • Losses, regret, uncertainty, being wrong, missing out and other aversions
  • Aversions and the flight to comfort
  • The short term comfort v long term gains pay off
  • Learning to accept and get good at being uncomfortable
  • How one traders insight that ‘discomfort is normal’ enhanced his trading performance
  • The research with FX traders that showed that the best way to get good at discomfort is to get lots of practice at being uncomfortable
  • Developing poise – taking effective action when it is uncomfortable
  • The importance of training the psychological skills to deal with discomfort
PDF Transcript

Episode 3

What Is A Good Trading Decision?

In this episode we are going to think about trading decisions, explore what a good trading decision is, what a bad trading decision is, the relationship between your trading process and your trading results, and I share a case study of one of my clients who made one key mental shift – perhaps the most important mental shift required for making better trading decisions - which helped him to trade with less stress and anxiety, make better decisions and improve his trading results. I will also share some strategies that you can utilise for reducing your own decision making stress and anxiety levels, so you can enhance your decision making and maximise your returns.

Key themes covered include…

  • What is a good trading decision?
  • The 4 quadrants of trading decision process and outcomes
  • Why your brain is attracted to your P&L, but it ultimately works against you
  • The research showing the impact on performance of being to results focused in your decision making
  • The research showing the benefits of becoming more process focused in your decision making
  • A case study of how one client reduced his stress and anxiety levels, improved his decision making process and made more P&L with one shift in his mindset
  • How you can make better decisions by reducing outcome attachment and adopting a mastery approach
PDF Transcript

Episode 2

Developing Situational Awareness - The Mental Skill of Trading Discipline

Key themes covered include…

  • What is Situational Awareness?
  • Why situational awareness is important to high performance trading
  • How training situational awareness strengthens the mental muscles of self-discipline
  • The use of mindfulness-based approaches for developing situational awareness
  • Marine mind fitness training and developing situational awareness for enhanced decision making under conditions of risk and uncertainty
  • The observing self, and how a top hedge fund trader ‘watched himself’ trade at his best
  • A mental training technique for developing situational awareness
PDF Transcript

Episode 1

Becoming A Better Trader

Key themes covered include…

  • Mastery – the mindset shared by elite athletes, soldiers, poker players and traders
  • The performance revolution and the science of improving performance
  • What is trading performance?
  • The importance of shifting from an obsession about results to an obsession with how to achieve trading excellence
  • The 4 S’s of high-performance trading
  • The importance of training your mind, brain and body for achieving your trading potential
  • The future trading you -– a coaching framework for identifying your future best trading self and identifying the actions required to get there
PDF Transcript