Learning Price Action Through Observation

Learning Happens when you’re open and curious and making observations from what you see. From there, you must be mentally balanced to take action on your observations.

In this post, I focus on the price action that happens in the pivot portion of a swing cycle. If you make observations of this area you will see a certain kind of repeating behavior that can help you understand and design methods for trading swings. You will notice that the market likes to wash everybody out of their positions before pivoting to continue its swing.

I look at two ways this shows up in the price action of a pivot. The first is an engulfing bar that expands and swallows at least 3 of the previous bars. The second is a Gap Swap where a WRB Gap will make an effort in one direction just to be followed by another WRB GAP that reverses that effort and direction and shows that the balance of power has shifted.

This is just a small part of what makes up a swing but it factors into my overall methods and trade plan. You can make observations yourself on pivots and see what you can learn.


Median Lines and Finding The Right Path

When it comes to learning about markets and trading, finding the right path and committing to it is the hardest part. The right path has little to do with any technical analysis method. It has to do with structuring our mental framework so that we fundamentally change how we experience markets, trading, and loss.

In the video, I show some Median Line and Action/Reaction work but this work is useless by itself. No tool is good or bad, they are just tools we use to comprehend markets. The problem arises when the tools start using us and we think there is some kind of magic to them.

The essence of our strategy should be to structure our methods and mindset toward functionality. The journey we should commit to is one marked by fostering accountability and responsibility in all our actions. The swing trade Idea I show takes a method and structures it into function.


Defining Target for Risk Reward: Maybe you shouldn’t?

The trade plan is broken up into parts. We have an objective and consistent entry, stop, and exit plan. Here I will be talking about the exit plan and setting targets that will give you a particular risk/reward ratio. There are no absolutes when it comes to what risk/reward you should be aiming for, a lot has to do with how you handle risk and loss and your overall understanding of markets.

Defining the stop (risk) is relatively easy compared to defining the target (reward). Mostly you need a clean set of statistics on an objective method. This will give you an average distance that the swing will run in relation to your method. The reward part of the equation is a function of how far your stop is to your entry.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to trading. For many, it may be best not to set a target, but instead use something simple and objective like a moving average to exit the trade. This way, you get what the market gives you while incorporating consistency and objectivity into your exit plan. Keep it simple, objective, and consistent, and learn as you go. In the video, I make something up on the spot that may give you some ideas. I use a 20ema as a profit stop only after the price has made a new high. It’s simple, principle-based, and it’s objective.

No matter what your method, knowing where you are in the swing cycle will help in defining entry, stop, and target, and this will directly influence the risk/reward ratio.

What Is an Expanding Swing?

Markets move in contraction/expansion. Small swings can be thought of as a form of contraction and the bigger swing is a form of expansion. An Expanded Swing is simply a reaction leg that is bigger than the previous reaction leg or legs. Its minor swings growing up to be major swings.

This represents a change in behavior that often causes confusion among the shorts and the longs. The shorts are fearful cause the market is now backing up on them and the longs are fearful cause they see a market now turning up and getting away from them. This confusion creates an opportunity for those that are sitting back with a plan.

To see this price action on a chart, it helps to have some simple and objective definitions for mapping the market and I show this in the video. First, we use market structure to read the market, and then we use a trading structure (trade plan) to structure the actual trade where we manage risk.

Review: Did You Make a Clear Plan? Did You Follow That Plan?

We can break up the review section of the trading into several distinct sections.

1. Review for discipline and personal insight
2. Review for performance (statistics)
3. Review for market insight
4. Review for method development

I’m going to do the first section “Review For Discipline”. We can keep this simple and ask 2 questions.
1. Did you make a clear and objective plan?
2. Did you then do what you said you were going to do in the plan?

These questions demand honest, yes-or-no answers. They force you to confront your trading discipline head-on, without room for excuses or escape. If the answer is no that’s ok, just start over with the commitment to keep at it and don’t spend too much time on regrets. You might need to make your plan clearer or simply learn the discipline to stay with it. Keep in mind that this isn’t about whether you won or lost, it is about learning consistency and discipline.

Market Structure: Seeing In Swings

Market Structure is simply making distinctions in price flow. its putting structure around what looks like chaos so that we have a way to measure and orient ourselves to any market in any timeframe. When I look at a market, I want to see objectively in swings.

Swings are the common thread that weaves through all markets and timeframes, clearly indicating who is in control at any given moment. They consist of distinct components and follow a process, forming the foundation of my trading strategies and setups.

Market Structure Definitions:

Confirmed Swing High/Low: A new high confirms a
swing low and a new low confirms a swing high.

Major Swing: The largest reaction leg in your frame.
Minor Swing: the next largest reaction leg.

Balanced/Relative Swing: Same size reaction legs.

Expanded Swing: Reaction leg larger than previous reaction leg.

Components of a Swing:

Impulse Leg: The leg that takes out a previous high or low.

Reaction Leg: The retracement or pullback after the impulse leg.

Impulse Leg Shelf: a small range at the end of an impulse leg

Reaction Leg Shelf: A small range at the bottom of a reaction leg

Context and Learning To Change With Change

One of the hardest things for traders, or anyone for that matter, is to adapt to change. Mostly we get stuck when things change, which makes trading difficult since the very nature of markets is change. This is where the cliché ‘going with the flow’ originates, but simply understanding the cliché isn’t enough; we must internalize and practice it and get it in our bones.

In this post, I will outline a trade plan for RNG. This is a part of our ’30 Planned Trades’ series, where we plan every aspect of the trade ahead of time and then execute what we have planned.

One aspect of a trade plan is the method or setup. Setups don’t happen in a vacuum, there is a context that determines the meaning of the content. I’m going to approach context very simply here as the thing that decides if the market is going up or down.

I often read things about how I should follow the trend or go with the flow or don’t fight the market, but exactly what trend or flow should I follow? It’s too abstract, so I’m going to fix a cycle to follow and learn to let go and change when it changes.

In the video, I show the basics of a simple practice you can try, using a rolling 100-bar cycle to determine if we are looking for long setups, short setups, or in a transitional or neutral phase. I not only want to be precise and consistent in my Trade Plans, I want to be consistent in my methods.

By adhering to a fixed cycle and adapting to changes, I avoid the need to guess or predict market directions, maintaining balance in my approach. Think about this: If you charge your mind with the impossible task of predicting a market when markets are unpredictable, you will end up a nervous wreck and then wonder why your trading is so emotional.

I encourage you to try this practice. Since it keeps you from constantly looking to the left of the chart or at higher time frames for more information, it will likely push you out of your comfort zone into the unknown, which is a good start.

A Bad Trade Plan Is Better Than No Trade Plan

Traders often talk about the need to be patient but to be patient, we must know what we are being patient for. That is why we have a trade plan and know ahead of time exactly where to enter, where to place a stop, where to exit, and how much size to put on.

In this post, I continue with our trade planning exercise of 30 planned trades by making a trade plan for LEN. Keep in mind that the exercise is all about learning consistency and discipline and not about the method or whether the trade wins or loses.

In the video, I speak of not being worried about losing all 30 trades in a row. It’s not that I have steel nerves, it’s that I have planned ahead of time for 30 losses with my position size.

Nothing Works, Either The Trader Works or Doesn’t Work

In this post, I’ll be sharing a trade plan for IOT, demonstrating the importance of creating a consistent and structured approach to trading. A well-defined trade plan offers the only control a trader has in the ever-changing and unpredictable environment of the markets.

Initially, the process of developing a detailed trade plan may seem tedious. This is a natural resistance from our minds, which often shy away from structured approaches. However, the focus of this post is to encourage you to move beyond searching for the ‘perfect’ method and instead build a solid foundation of learning discipline and consistency.

Implementing a focused, consistent method is like a framework that you can learn from and even design new methods from within that framework. The key is to focus on being consistent in what we do.

In the accompanying video, I show the components and processes of a swing trade and how I incorporate these elements into my trading methods. Instead of thinking purely in terms of technical analysis, I encourage you to consider structuring your approach around the simple dynamics of buyers and sellers, to gauge who is in control at any given moment.