What crypto traders can learn about performance from Esport competitors
As a crypto trader, you may have suffered from anxiety, sleep loss, depression, burnout and various physical injuries as a result of your commitment to trading.
You are not alone.
Many traders suffer from various ailments as they attempt to beat the market and work through the emotional price of learning how to perform better.
Your profit and loss statement is merely a reflection of your ability to make good trading decisions in a variable, uncertain, and highly competitive environment.
But what leads to good decision making?
Good decisions and execution in a trading environment rely on a series of factors. One factor is using a trading journal to map out your thinking and trades. Another is figuring out what trading style works for you.
But the factor often neglected is the influence that your mental and physical health have on these decisions.
In many ways, crypto traders compete in a similar mental and physical environment to an esports competitor. It’s dynamic, hyper-competitive, and digitally based. There’s real money on the line. And the mental and physical demands are substantial.
What can crypto traders learn from the esports experience about performance? A lot actually.
Improving performance through accountability
Esports is a growing industry where competitors experience a variety of problems, including mental and physical health issues, burnout and early retirement. As it turns out these are many of the same issues new (and sometimes more experienced) digital traders experience.
The crypto trading business model differs from esports in one important area that is now changing these health outcomes: professionalization and sponsorship.
As the Esports industry becomes increasingly professional and sponsored, the level of accountability is increasing. Sponsors want results, and salaried competitors have to be accountable for their performance.
The old days of training (playing video games) day and night with little rest are disappearing.
Terrible sleep habits have started to normalize.
Energy management through a constant flow of junk food is frowned upon.
The endless screen time without breaks is discouraged.
And the belief that physical training is not necessary is slowly being replaced by…aerobic and resistance training.
Now there is some debate as to whether esports competitors are athletes. A German group decided to look into this with an in-depth study. What they discovered is that esports competitors experience significant mental and physical wear and tear.
They may not be running around a field, sprinting or racing, but esports bodies are displaying a variety of injuries and ailments consistent with body parts pushed to the limit.
Eye strain, hand and wrist injuries, back and neck pain, even deep vein thrombosis. With as many as 50 actions a second, hand-eye coordination is severely taxed after 3-10 hours a day of practicing.
As a crypto trader, some of these problems are likely happening to you too during active periods of market activity, especially with a 24-hour market.
Trading after all, is a performance activity. A money game.
Sleep isn’t optional
In addition to physical demands, sleep patterns for many esports athletes are erratic. They sleep at odd times or don’t sleep enough.
Negative health outcomes from inadequate or erratic sleep include increasing blood sugar, insulin and subsequent weight gain – as well as fatigue and high blood pressure.
But the impacts of sleep deprivation go beyond the physical- there are major mental implications as well.
Science has demonstrated that as restorative sleep is reduced below a threshold, decision-making becomes impaired.
The lower limit seems to be around 6 hours a night.
For the crypto trader, sleep deprivation on an ongoing basis will radically increase emotional instability and reduce effective decision making.
Junk food isn’t for pros
Diet has become a focus for improvement amongst esports athletes as well.
Junk food diets have been a staple of the esports community since the beginning. But managing blood sugar and energy levels with a constant flow of sugary junk food is now discouraged.
A junk food diet leads to rapid but temporary increases in energy. This is followed by “the crash” as your insulin acts to remove excess sugar and carbohydrate from your bloodstream. This is typically followed by fatigue, anxiety and sleepiness.
Eventually, sugar becomes the antidote for excess sugar, accelerating the downsides of increased blood pressure, weight gain, sedentariness, fatigue and depression.
Add this to a lack of consistent restorative sleep, and it’s not hard to see how early burnout would be possible for both the esports athlete and the crypto trader addicted to junk food.
Some refer to sitting as the new smoking. Not sure if this is true, but what is clear is that being mostly sedentary for long periods day after day is not good for you.
Bedridden patients who are not required to support their bodyweight deteriorate very quickly. A week of immobility leads to significant strength loss and changes in circulatory and respiratory activity. Immobility leads directly to deconditioning.
Now imagine what 10 hours in a chair, followed by the couch and then in bed, day after day is doing to you…
Could this be the reason one esports competitor found himself with a potentially lethal case of deep vein thrombosis?
Human beings are meant to move.
10 hours a day of training in a competitive digital environment, where sitting is the only posture is clearly against our nature. And this lack of movement combined with the demands from esports competition has clear negative implications.
For the crypto trader glued to the screen continuously day to day will experience similar outcomes over time. A 24-hour crypto market vs the 6 ½ for the legacy stock market doesn’t make things easier.
Now take the lack of sleep, poor diet, inadequate movement, and a junk food diet – put them together and what do you get?
Anxiety, poor decision-making, burnout, declining performance and eventually early retirement.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What traders can learn from esports enthusiasts
Esports sponsors and teams have begun to look at professional athletes in other disciplines for guidance.
Professional athletes have a variety of different coaches to help them perform at their best. They have a sleep coach, dietitian, conditioning coach, strength coach, psychologist and others.
Esports teams are taking advantage of this expertise to change the health, wellbeing and performance of their team athletes.
And this change can serve as guidance for all digital performers, including crypto traders.
The mental game requires recovery
One key acknowledgement is that professional athletes train hard but emphasize recovery.
Recovery comes in the form of adequate restorative sleep. Professional athletes training several hours a day require substantial amounts of sleep to stay healthy and avoid injuries.
Your brain, hands, wrists, back and neck need rest too. For those in the digital realm, this might mean 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep without the presence of light or digital devices.
For the esports athlete and the crypto trader, it’s a bit different than the physical athlete. Your mental processing is the key component of your performance. The better the processing, the faster the reaction times.
It is widely understood that most people are capable of between 3-6 hours of mentally focused and demanding activity. Deep connection to the game or the market over sustained periods is exhausting.
Training for this means managing your energy levels and taking periodic breaks.
For esports athletes, this means capping digital training sessions. For the crypto trader, this might mean stepping away periodically from the screen to re-evaluate, or going for a walk.
A written trading plan can assist you with taking breaks because you already know what you are going to do in the market and when.
Exercise is a form of digital training
As beings designed to move, getting out of the chair is increasingly seen as improving performance in the chair.
An increasing number of esports teams have been adding the physical to their training routines.
Esports competitors are better able to manage stress, sleep, and improve posture and stamina in and out of the chair through aerobic and resistance training as well as activities like yoga.
Aerobic activity reduces heart rate and provides stamina over long and demanding competitions.
Weight training increases stamina and coordination while improving posture and reducing injuries.
Yoga can help with relaxation, mental focus and posture.
Physical training also provides an outlet for the accumulated stress and physical demands for the esports athlete whose performance is primarily seated. This kind of training leads to a healthier, more durable competitor.
Healthy fit athletes in the esports space will have an advantage by being able to manage their stress better. They will also have the capacity to perform at a higher level longer, with less fatigue and anxiety.
For the crypto trader, a combination of aerobic and resistance training can prove valuable in much the same way. An increase in stamina, focus and durability. Better stress and emotional management.
All of which lead to more effective trading decisions.
Pass on the junk
There is a lot of debate about what the right diet might be. Where there is no debate is that processed foods, especially junk foods, are not the answer.
Diet is an essential element in both performance and recovery. The better you eat, the better you recover and perform.
For sedentary athletes like those in esports, the emphasis needs to be on energy management. The roller-coaster of blood sugar rise and crash is physically depleting, has real mental implications and is an unnecessary distraction.
Stable blood sugars are typically a result of a lower carbohydrate diet. Stable blood sugar means more stable mood, clearer thinking, less inflammation, and the feeling of having more consistent energy.
Many athletes are experimenting with a variety of diets to achieve better health and energy management, including low carbohydrate, ketogenic, vegetarian, and even fasting.
Diet can act as a secret weapon in a competition or a sustainable advantage for the crypto trader operating at the limit during their trading activities.
Digital performers as athletes
The digital performer has a lot of demands put on them and few outlets. But digital competition has real physical and mental demands, and the deterioration and injuries are real.
Performance is a combination of skill, focus and decision making.
Physical durability and long term success in trading go beyond mere numbers. It includes mental and physical well-being derived from training activities outside the market.
These include adequate sleep, breaks from intense focus, eating well and getting both physically stronger and more fit. Durability is a competitive advantage.
All of these enhance mental focus, reduce unwanted emotional interference and drive better performance.
Your chair and screen are tools. Don’t let them become a prison.
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