If you’re a seasoned futures trader, you know that variance is part of the game. Everyone, no matter how skilled or unskilled, runs hot and cold.
Sometimes, however, if a cold streak seems to be lingering, a self-evaluation may be in order. The best traders are usually those who seek continual improvement and assess their progress at regular intervals.
With that in mind, let’s review five keys to improving as a futures trader.
1. Manage your risk effectively
Managing risk is an essential part of any futures trading strategy. If you’re not protecting your investments through the smart use of buy and sell stops to limit losses — or adopting hedging strategies such as buying puts – it might be time to reevaluate your tactics.
You should also understand that while these protective stops are important tools for money management, they aren’t perfect. Your stop price may not always get filled, and you should be ready for this possibility.
One more point: Don’t sit on your losses too long, or send too much good money after bad in an effort to average down a losing position. While each trade is different, in most cases you’re better off setting tighter loss parameters and moving along to the next opportunity.
2. Master your Trading Psychology
Maintaining discipline and emotional distance is a key component of smart trading. Successful traders have the discipline to stick with their trading plan, while also maintaining the flexibility to seize upon developing opportunities.
The more you can remove emotion from trading, generally speaking, the better off you’ll be. Red numbers can spook a trader and lead to an ill-advised sell; greed, on the other hand, can result in a trader hanging onto a winning position for too long.
This is why it’s critically important to stick with your rules. Remember, if you can maintain discipline during periods of turbulence, you’ll have a competitive advantage over others who can’t manage their emotions.
3. Sharpen Your Trading Skills
A good trader has many tools in his toolbox — and knows precisely the right one for any situation. If technical or fundamental analysis isn’t your strong suit, make an effort to improve your knowledge.
It’s also important to find the right mindset. Are you an independent thinker who isn’t afraid to go against prevailing market trends? Do you have comprehensive strategies designed to help you prosper in bullish, bearish or sideways markets? Are you committed to rigorous self-evaluation and continuous learning? Are you aware of the cognitive biases that can trap traders and create suboptimal outcomes?
Once you can answer in the affirmative to those questions, you’ll be close to finding your best form as a futures trader.
4. Avoid the Urge to Trade with Excessive Frequency
It’s easy to get the itch to trade if you haven’t done so in awhile, but circumstances sometimes favor caution or inactivity. Let the market come to you — never trade simply to trade.
If you’re running cold and you’re trading in multiple markets, consider streamlining your positions. Successful trading requires patience, discipline and strong knowledge of individual markets. Sometimes it’s better to move with deliberation.
5. Use the Proper Futures Trading Platform
A builder is only as good as his materials — and a trader can be made or broken by his choice of trading platform. Choose one that’s unreliable, and you might miss out on your best trading opportunity of the year.
To give you the best chance at success, you need a platform with 24/7 trades, high-end analysis, a wide range of platforms and services designed to meet the needs of each trader and the technological tools to spot market opportunities as they develop.
With the appropriate support from a reliable, full-featured futures trading platform, you’ll have the resources required to become a better trader.
The best traders are committed to continuous improvement and willing to exploit any edge or advantage, no matter how small. We encourage you to examine the ideas outlined above in an effort to achieve better results in the market.
Trading success requires hard work. Try and do something every day to achieve your trading goals. Study the markets, analyse your trades and learn everything you can. You have every chance of being a successful trader – if you are prepared to do the work. Check out our free Futures Trading Pack.