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The Art of Sitting on the Bench

As a competitive athlete, sitting on the bench is the last place that you want to be during a competition.  You have put in long hours and made a multitude of sacrifices to get to where you are, and to just waste them sitting on the bench seems unbearable.  But the truth is, sometimes being on the bench is the best thing for you.  I have been a starter, and I have been a bench warmer.  And honestly, I learned more sitting on the bench observing than I did playing in the game.  Here is what I learned:

As a bench player, I actually put in more work.  The starters usually have more talent and the game comes easier to them.  So, to keep up and match their ability, I had to put in overtime.  As time passed, I found myself closing the gap between me and the person ahead of me.  There were times when I personally feel that I surpassed them.  The coach told me before I graduated that he felt that I was the most valuable player on the team when I was coming off the bench because whenever I came into the game, I was always ready physically, but more important mentally.  I knew exactly how I wanted to attach the other teams defense and how I wanted to play the person guarding me and that I was guarding.

Sitting and watching the game as it unfolded allowed me to sharpen my mental and cognitive skills.  I had no idea that the coach noticed my mental ability and how I was able to out-think my competitors.  I felt that this was the big equalizer between me and anyone who had more natural talent than I had.  I was able to study the opponents defense and how they rotated and the weaknesses each defender had so when it was my turn to go in, I could be the most effective player.

I also learned how to be patient and trust the process.  The coach knew the talent he had on his team.  The coach knew the strengths and weaknesses of his players.  He developed a game plan based on the information about his players.  He had to figure out how each of his players stacked up against the competition and had to come up with a plan to take advantage of our strengths while negating the strengths of our opponents.  I had to learn to trust that he knew how to best use my talents to help the team achieve its objective.  I had to be patient and wait for the opportunity to make a difference.

So when I became a starter, I knew that if I wasn’t performing or living up to the talent that my coach depended on me to display, I was going to sit for a while on the bench.  And this happened more often that I would have liked, but I was a bench player, and I found it difficult to be a starter.  But one thing that I knew, and the coach knew, was that I understood how to sit on that bench and use that time to correct any errors that I was making and observe the other team and come up with a game plan to take advantage of my strengths while exploiting their weaknesses.

OK, so I know the question that you have; how the hell does this relate to trading the stock market?  Well, I’ll tell you!

In the market, we will run into other traders who are just more talented than we are, more funded than we are, and more educated than we are.  It will seem to us that everything just comes easier to them. That they are able to move in and out of trades so effortlessly no matter what the outcome.  When you feel this way,  sometimes it will be best for you to just take a step back, sit out that session, take a seat on the bench, and just observe.  Sometimes you will realize that you will need to put in extra work, extra screen time, extra study time, extra mentoring time.  It will be like, “I just like you need extra!”

Also, there will be times when you can’t seem to do anything right. Your entries are wrong, your exits are wrong, your trade plans are wrong. You keep making simple mistakes that eventually will make you mad and in turn this will compound into larger mistakes.  You will begin to doubt yourself.  You will start blaming the market, your broker, your computer, me, well you get the idea.

So, benching yourself; sitting out trading sessions, or just taking a time out will give you the opportunity to really look at the market with an open and clear mind.  You will be able to get a feel for the order flow, the volatility, and the range in which a stock moves.  This will give you a mental edge over other traders and allow you to take advantage of their mistakes while successfully executing your game plan in the market

So don’t feel bad if you have to bench yourself.  If you use the bench time wisely the bench will become one of the most important tools that you will possess as a trader.