Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Breaking the Slump Part 2

This morning I saw the final standings for the PGA Fedex Cup. It again reminded me of the many trading analogies between sports (specifically golf) and trading. In a previous post I talked about David Duval's recovery from a slump. (I highly recommend the book "Breaking the Slump" for a more detailed look). Looking at the 2009 Fedex Cup standings I see Steve Stricker coming in at third.

2009 FedExCup Playoff Points


Stricker's career began in 1990 after graduating from the University of Illinois. He turned pro in 1990. His most successful year came in 1996 when he won the Kemper Open and the Western open. In 1996 he also had seven top ten finishes and finished 4th on the money list.

Stricker lost his game sometime in the early part of this decade. Between 2002 and 2005 he did not play in most of the majors and when he did he did not make the cut. In 2004 he finished 151st on the money list and lost his tour card. Stricker said: ''I was beating myself up. I knew I was a better player than what I was playing, and not doing it is frustrating.''

He returned to his home in Wisconsin and seriously considered retiring from professional golf. However he found his passion for the game again and began training through the Wisconsin winter by hitting golf balls out of a modified/heated trailer. He focused on his swing. He did not focus on winning tournaments or getting it all back at once.

He eventually made his way back to the tour, winning the 2006 and 2007 comeback player of the year. In 2007 he was runner up to Tiger Woods in the Fedex Cup playoff standings. In 2008 he lost a playoff in the Mercedes Benz Championship but vaulted to # 3 in the world standings. Stricker has won 3 tournaments in 2009 (Colonial, John Deere, Deutsche Bank). And he finished the season third in the FedEx Cup.

So how did Steve Stricker go from a man without a tour card (training in a heated trailer) to an elite player again?

Some samples of what Stricker worked on from an article by Chuck Evans and from the book Breaking the Slump (my thoughts underlined in black):

  • "Never give up. We all go through periods when we are not playing particularly well and the key is to find the weakness that is cause of that. Sometimes it is ball striking and other times it is the short game and in rare cases it is both! " Never give up.

  • "Always practice with a purpose. Virtually all players practice incorrectly, they go to the range and hit balls, which is only exercise, but they almost always do not have a plan for improvement. I recommend rehearsal swings then hit one ball, rehearse and hit one ball, and so on to build a feel for what you are trying to accomplish." Have a plan, do not act without a purpose.

  • "Driver, wedge, and putter account for approximately 78 percent of all strokes, so spend the majority of your practice time with these clubs." I make the link to trading this way: focus on your bread and butter trades and set ups. Do not worry about the home runs or one off trades.

  • "Find someone to help you in your quest for improvement." Trading mentor? coach? friend? colleague?

In the same book that details the slumps and recoveries of Duval and Stricker, Greg Norman had this to offer:

”"I can’t remember who the quote came from, but it says,”Show me a path with no obstacles and the path will lead you nowhere.""

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