Updated from its original posting on 2011-07-23
One of the more useful skills for forex trading is knowing when to press your advantage, either by improving reward-to-risk ratios and adding to winning positions or even just logging in more trades.
Pressing your advantage is a good quality to have, but sometimes this kind of mindset can get you into trouble. Instead of waiting for the right opportunity to press their advantage, some traders become impatient and/or desperate for the market to move. They want things to happen immediately.
An impulsive trader, for instance, would continue to add to a position even though he had identified a ranging market, all because he wants to maximize profits. He consequently gets stopped out and screws up his winning trade.
On the other hand, a good trader would press his advantage only when trading a trending market by scaling into a winning position. He would add every time price retraces and appropriately moves his stop.
As Big Pippin puts it, trading is like wooing that special someone you’ve been crushing on for some time. You have to know when to be all chatty and excite them, and when to simply just keep your mouth shut and let the other person do the talking. Much like trading, winning over your potential sweetheart requires you to be attentive and to have self-discipline and control.
Now if you’re new to pressing trades, increasing your trading volume, or just one of them adrenaline junkies who adds to trades for the thrill of it, then I have a three-step process that just might work for you.
1. List down the rules for pressing a trade
Before ever pressing a trade, you should have a framework as to WHY/WHEN it would be beneficial to do so and HOW to do it safely. To begin building that framework, ask yourself questions to determine those conditions. Here are some sample questions:
- “Under what specific conditions should I scale in and add to a trade?”
- “When should I hold back?”
- “How would I adjust my entry levels and stops under different scenarios?”
Another way to help you build your rules is to go through your trading journal and find past situations where pressing your trade would have been a good trade decision. Also, finding these market behaviors and studying them can be additional experience on top of your live/demo trading.
2. Make it part of your daily routine
Once you’ve listed down your rules for pressing a trade, you need implement it in your trading. An exercise to practice and turn your rules for pressing into habit is to visualize different trading scenarios before the market opens and write down how you will react to them based on your rules.
By doing this, you will not only have rules ready specific for the day, but you’ll also minimize impulsive reactions and give yourself a better chance of reducing mistakes.
If you stick to this drill every time you trade, you’ll internalize the process and over time pressing your trades safely will become second nature. Learning rules can be kinda like learning how to take out the trash every day.
Your spouse will “strongly encourage you” to take out the trash so often that you will eventually do so to avoid the nagging, errr, strong reminders. Any kind of good habit can be made automatic with daily practice…or a loving and strong-willed spouse.
3. Review your trading at the end of the day
How else will you know which rules for pressing a trade are costing you pips and which ones are working? At the end of each day, record the market’s behavior and review your trading performance by identifying what you did well and what mistakes were made. You can then adjust and make it the focus of your trading the following day.
Like any worthy goal, knowing the best situations on when to press a trade will take lots of practice. But if you’re willing to commit to it every day by making it part of your routine, you’ll slowly be able to internalize this technique into one of your good trading habits. This, in turn, will get you one step closer to truly becoming a consistently profitable trader.