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How to Trade Channel Breakouts

How to Trade Channel Breakouts

As prices fluctuate during trading, they form local highs and lows that, when connected by a trendline, create various patterns. One of these patterns is a channel — a range where prices move within parallel boundaries without narrowing or widening. These channels typically confine the price’s movement until sufficient market momentum causes a breakout.

What Is a Channel Breakout?

When prices get stuck between a level of support and resistance and stay there for a prolonged period, they form a channel. 

 

Normally, when prices reach the upper or lower limits of a channel, they reverse direction. However, if enough momentum builds up, the price can break through these limits, often resulting in a significant price movement. This movement continues until a new market equilibrium is reached, or the price re-enters the channel and stabilizes.

What Is a Channel Breakout Strategy?

Channel breakouts offer some of the best trading opportunities for experienced traders who can reliably identify them. When prices break out of a channel, with enough momentum they become more volatile and unpredictable because the established market equilibrium no longer holds.

 

A channel breakout strategy aims to take advantage of the increased volatility and market activity that follows a successful breakout.

Types of Trading Channels

There are three major types of trading channels: ascending, descending, and horizontal.

Ascending Channels

 

  • Formed when prices trend upwards over time, creating higher highs and higher lows.
  • Generally considered bullish as they indicate an upward trend.

Descending Channels

 

  • Formed when prices trend downwards, creating lower highs and lower lows.
  • Generally considered bearish as they indicate a downward trend.

Horizontal Channels

 

  • Formed when prices move within a horizontal range, creating relatively equal highs and lows.
  • Typically seen as periods of accumulation, where bulls accumulate positions near the support level and bears near the resistance.

How To Spot a Potential Channel Breakout

A channel breakout can occur at either the resistance or support level. When prices approach these levels, trading activity increases as bulls and bears close unfavorable positions and open new ones in anticipation of a breakout.

 

As prices touch the channel's borders, traders expecting a reversal close their positions and open new ones, while those anticipating a continuation typically hold their positions to see how the breakout unfolds. 

 

A third group of traders enters the market at this time with new positions they open only at these potential breakout points. This group is typically the one responsible for pushing the price beyond the confines of the channel as they add extra fuel to the price’s momentum.

 

If there is enough pressure, the channel is broken and even more traders rush in to secure positions in preparation for a continuation. 

 

In this scenario, what you should be looking for is a sudden spike in volume. This spike is due to all the activity mentioned above. 

How To Trade a Channel Breakout?

The most important step to trade a breakout successfully is confirming the breakout but there are other considerations that can help improve your trading as well. 

Confirming a Channel Breakout

Breaking out of a channel is only half the battle, though. A “fakeout” (i.e., an unsuccessful price move) often happens at this point if there is insufficient momentum. This is why most traders wait for a breakout confirmation before opening bigger positions. 

 

Channel breakout confirmations are typically 3-5 candles of sustained trading outside of the channel. During this period, prices may tough the outer bounds of the channel or briefly go back in, but for the confirmation to hold they need to spend the majority of the time on the outside.

 

Once the market has realized that a breakout is legitimate, a lot of funds are typically injected into fresh positions which push the price further in the direction of the breakout. 

Confirm that there is an increase in volume during the breakout. High volume indicates strong market interest and confirms the breakout’s validity. Typically, the more volume there is the more momentum the price will have to continue the breakout. 

 

Finally, you can track indicators like the Relative Strength Index (RSI), Money-flow Index (MFI), or Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) to confirm price momentum. Positive momentum supports the breakout direction.

Finding the Right Entry Point

To trade a channel breakout effectively, timing your entry point is crucial. Enter the trade after confirming the breakout, ideally at the close price of the initial breakout candlestick. Alternatively, you can enter at the retest of the breakout level for additional confirmation and reduced risk. This approach helps ensure that the breakout is genuine and reduces the likelihood of falling victim to a false breakout.

Placing Stop Loss Orders

Proper stop-loss placement is essential for managing risk when trading channel breakouts. 

For long trades, put a stop loss slightly below the support level. When going short, place it just above the level of resistance. This positioning ensures that if the breakout is invalidated, your losses are minimized. 

 

Note: Make sure to account for some natural volatility around the borders of the channel by placing your stop-loss orders further away from them. This is especially important for more volatile assets like some cryptocurrencies.

Setting Profit Targets

A clear profit target makes for a successful breakout trade. Ideally, you would aim to set profit targets based on the height of the channel. For example, if the channel is 100 points high, aim for a profit target that is at least 100 points from the breakout level. Use a favorable risk-reward ratio, typically aiming for at least a 2:1 ratio, to maximize profitability and ensure that your potential gains outweigh your risks.

Using Trailing Stops

To protect your profits and allow for further gains, use trailing stops. Adjust the stop level based on price action and volatility to lock in profits as the price moves in your favor. Trailing stops enable you to capture more significant market movements while minimizing the risk of giving back profits during market reversals.

Managing Your Risk

Always use proper position sizing and risk management techniques. Aim to risk small percentages of your trading capital on individual trades. For beginner traders, 1 to 2 percent should be sufficient. Diversify your trades to avoid overexposure to a single market or asset. This disciplined approach helps protect your trading capital and ensures that individual trades don’t have an outsized impact on your portfolio. 

Conclusion

Breakouts offer great opportunities for big profits if traded with proper risk management and a keen eye for spotting confirmations. 

 

Keep learning more about crypto trading by visiting the Dash 2 Trade Crypto Trading Academy and if you’re ready to take your profits to new heights, check out our DCA and Grid bots which will help you profit, not just from breakouts but from in-channel price volatility as well.

 

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