To Invest, Think: "Sweet Spot"

Did you know that you can learn a valuable lesson about investing from looking at sports? In his book, "The Science of Hitting," Former Red Sox player Ted Williams said the most important thing when trying to hit a baseball is to wait for the right pitch. You have to know where your "sweet spot" is - the place where you love to hit the baseball.

A sweet spot in investing, just like in hitting, is when you gain an edge by getting just the pitch you want.

We try to exert a Ted Williams kind of discipline. In his book The Science of Hitting, Ted explains that he carved the strike zone into 77 cells, each the size of a baseball. Swinging only at balls in his “best” cell, he knew, would allow him to bat .400; reaching for balls in his “worst” spot, the low outside corner of the strike zone, would reduce him to .230. In other words, waiting for the fat pitch would mean a trip to the Hall of Fame; swinging indiscriminately would mean a ticket to the minors.
— Warren Buffett

Investing is the greatest business in the world because you never have to swing. You can just stand at the plate, and the pitcher throws you Amazon at $978, Starbucks at $55,  Tesla at $355 and L Brands at $37 and nobody calls a strike on you. There's no penalty except opportunity lost. All day you wait for the pitch you that's right in your sweet spot.

In contrast, there are called strikes in baseball, so you have to swing at strikes, even if they aren't the pitches you like. You must swing at anything close to the strike zone or risk striking out.

The great news for investors is that you don't have to swing at every pitch.

The trick in investing is just to sit there and watch pitch after pitch go by and wait for the one right in your sweet spot. And if people are yelling, ‘Swing, you bum!,’ ignore them.
— Warren Buffett

Think for a moment about your own life, and what you understand. For example, do you have a deep understanding of:

  • Retail, clothing, fashion, or design
  • Biology, healthcare, or medicine
  • Food, restaurants, cafes
  • Technology, computers, hardware or software
  • Scientific research, chemistry, physics
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Wine and beer
  • Banking and finance
  • Photography or electronics

Well, if you have expertise in one of those areas, then your understanding is deeper than most. Your current job, or your education might give you insights into industries that give you an edge.


  • When visiting college students, Buffett often gives advice on how to get rich.
  • Buffett says that he can improve your ultimate financial welfare by just giving you one piece of advice.
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