7 Ways to Practice Day Trading Discipline

By Cathie Morrison | January 9, 2020

If you want to be successful as a day trader you must develop self-discipline, and the best way to do that is to practice.

Contrary to the well-known adage, practice does not make perfect  - but it does make reactions habitual. So, the more disciplines that become good habits, the more time and energy there is to focus on the markets themselves.

7 Steps for Practicing Day Trading Discipline

  1. Play the “hard right edge” game to hone your chart-reading skills.

    Trader practicing identifying trades

    To play the hard right edge game, first pick a trading symbol and a timeframe, then pull up that stock’s chart for a timeframe in the past: for example, the QQQ (Nasdaq composite ETF) from January 1 to December 21, 2010. Now identify supply and demand levels that are consistent market turning points and try to predict what is going to happen beyond the “hard right edge” of the chart going forward in time. Then, move the chart forward (in our example, change the time frame to 4/1/10 to 3/31/11) and see if you guessed right. Repeat as many times as needed to hone chart reading skills.

  2. Practice live trading with a predictable stock.

    Trader showing discipline in his trade management

    Practicing to trade with AAPL or another volatile stock could quickly lead to frustration. Instead, choose a lower priced stock that trades in a narrow range and responds consistently to conditions in the larger markets. Those who aren’t completely confident can practice trades using a live market simulation account to avoid risking any money at all.

  3. Set a Morning Routine

    Traders should have a morning routine

    Getting up early and at the same time each day should help traders ensure that they are fully awake and alert prior to Market Opening. Based on individual needs, set a routine to have breakfast, make the coffee, feed/play with pets, get the kids off to school, etc. at the same time each day.

  4. Create a Pre-market List to run through

    Traders should have a pre-market checklist

    30 minutes prior to market opening you should have:

    • Checked your account status and buying power for the day
    • Checked all associated markets for correlation. Example: If you are trading Futures, what are the currencies doing to support your decisions.
    • For OTA students, checked the Master Mind S/Z Grid, Daily Briefing and OTA Picks
    • Checked Economic Calendars for salient announcements
    • Checked general news for geo-political problems
    • Checked yourself for state of mind, focus and commitment
  5. Review and Journal Trades

    A trader journaling his trades and decision making process

    Wait 1 -2 hours to allow the emotions of the day’s trades to evaporate and then review them all. Check to see why they were winners or losers. Never forget that every trade is profitable, even if the only profit is profit learning. Even if you do lose money, don’t lose the lesson. Write down all of your findings and your thoughts. After a while, it’s hard to remember your first trades but you can read about them and will begin to see tendencies – if they are written down.

  6. Body, Mind and Soul – Take Care of Yourself

    A trader on a jog to maintain good physical and mental acuity

    Trading, particularly intraday trading is both mentally and physically taxing. Day traders suffer both from acute stress and chronic stress. Build some stress relief into your trading plan. Eat good food. Exercise and learn some simple meditation routines. Those who are fit typically have more stamina to power through whatever comes their way.

  7. Take what you learn start building skills right away

    Skill building is part of becoming a consistent trader

    OTA has developed a proprietary web platform with live market data feeds so students can take what they learn in class and start practicing it immediately. CliK™ is based on OTA’s core strategy and is directly applicable to what is taught in class. In simulation mode, traders can analyze, set up, place and track trades using real market data with no risk of losing money.

Please note that these tips can help to build confidence as consistent day trading is a result of practice; but in the end, performance is up to the individual. Those who lack self-discipline or who do not have the time to devote to learning the skills and strategies are less likely to succeed.

To learn more about how the markets work and Online Trading Academy's patented trading strategy, sign up for a free 3-hour introductory class.


About the Author
Cathie Morrison

Cathie has inspired students at every level as a public school teacher, college instructor, technology trainer and owner of a test preparation company as well as Online Trading Academy instructor. Cathie has traded stocks, Forex and futures, and particularly likes options as a way toward income and wealth. She believes that every student has the ability to succeed, and her role is to help them discover what they want and need, then help them to find their way to that goal.


This content is intended to provide educational information only. This information should not be construed as individual or customized legal, tax, financial or investment services. As each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should be consulted before making legal, tax, financial and investment decisions.

The educational information provided in this article does not comprise any course or a part of any course that may be used as an educational credit for any certification purpose and will not prepare any User to be accredited for any licenses in any industry and will not prepare any User to get a job. Past results are not a guaranty of future performance.

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