Trading 101: Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands are a popular indicator that show when as asset is valued high or low in relative terms.

Trading 101: Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands are a popular technical analysis tool used by traders and investors to gauge market volatility and identify potential price reversals.

Developed by veteran trader John Bollinger in the 1980s, Bollinger Bands provide valuable insights into market conditions and can be used to assist in making informed trading decisions.

Understanding Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands consist of three lines plotted on a price chart: A middle line, which is a simple moving average (typically 20 periods), and two outer bands, which are standard deviations of the middle line. The standard deviation factor (usually 2) determines the width of the bands. As volatility increases, the bands expand, while during low volatility periods, the bands contract.

Screenshot of bitcoin chart with Bollinger Bands
Price is defined as high at the top of the band, and low at the bottom.

Interpreting Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands serve as a powerful tool for technical analysis due to their ability to convey valuable information. When prices touch or move outside the upper band, it suggests overbought conditions, indicating a potential reversal or correction. Conversely, when prices touch or move below the lower band, it indicates oversold conditions, signaling a possible upward price movement.

The interaction between prices and the bands provides additional insights. A "squeeze", which occurs when the bands contract, often precedes a significant price breakout. Traders watch for this compression as an indication of an impending price surge. Additionally, the middle line acts as a dynamic support or resistance level, offering valuable reference points for traders.

Practical Applications

Bollinger Bands are useful across various trading strategies and financial markets. Swing traders often use Bollinger Bands to identify potential entry and exit points. For instance, a swing trader may wait for a price to touch the lower band and then buy when it starts moving back toward the middle line. Conversely, they may sell when the price reaches the upper band and begins to retreat.

As with all technical indicators, Bollinger Bands should not be relied upon alone. They should be used in conjunction with other technical indicators to validate signals. Traders often look for confirmation from other indicators like the Relative Strength Index (RSI) or Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) when a price touches or moves outside the bands, as well as support and resistance levels. Where there is confluence between two or more signals, traders may have a greater degree of confidence in their belief in the direction for price action.

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