If trading seems frustrating and difficult to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. Many traders, if not most, begin their trading careers with lofty goals and a full tank of hope, but those things can fade very quickly if you aren’t approaching the market from the right ‘angle’.
At Learn To Trade The Market, we take the view that whether or not a retail trader (like you or I) achieves consistent success in the market depends heavily on which method the trader uses. That is to say, we believe if you are trading with the wrong methodology, there is no way you will ever make money, even if you’re doing everything else right.
Trading success is the end result of getting the “3 M’s” right; Method, Mindset and Money Management. You cannot succeed with only two of the three; you must have all three down pat.
In this lesson, I want to focus on the first M; the Method that will give you the best chance to succeed at trading. You need to understand which method is the best, why it is the best and how you can master it, so let’s get started…
Swing Trading: The retail trader’s only real chance
I won’t lie to you; as a retail Forex trader, or a retail trader of any market really, there are multiple ‘forces’ working against you, which you may or not have been aware of until now. To be honest with you, you are a one-man (or woman) team when you’re a trader, and unless you have access to extremely large sums of money / the ability to withstand large drawdowns, you are not going to last very long if you don’t employ the proper trading method.
The big players in the market, like banks, hedge funds, etc. know where smaller retail traders place their orders and what they typically ‘do’ in the market (buy breakouts, day-trade, etc.). They know all the small-timer strategies and believe it or not, they enjoy taking your money every day in the market. You can’t survive without a stop loss, but they can, or at least they can for much longer than you or I and this is why day trading is dangerous; because traders put very small / tight stop losses on their positions they often get stopped out by normal daily price fluctuations in the market.
I’m not going to say that your broker ‘wants you to lose’, but I think saying they want you to day-trade is a fair assessment. Why do they want you to day-trade you ask? Well, for one you will generate a lot of fees in the form of spread payments or commissions, and two, you will lose a lot of trades for the reason I discussed in the previous paragraph. In short, day-trading is a fool’s game that sucks people in by appealing to their greedy / impatient desire to make ‘fast money’.
On the opposite end of the trading scale, we have position trading or investing, this is basically long-term buy and hold strategies that whilst they may pay off when you are ready to retire, they are not suitable for anyone looking to make a living as a trader, like you and I.
That brings us to what I call the trading ‘sweet spot’; swing trading. If you don’t already know, here’s what swing trading is: Swing Trading is a method of technical analysis to help you spot strong directional moves in the market that last on average, two to six days. Swing trading allows individual traders like us to exploit the strong short-term moves created by large institutional traders who cannot move in and out of the market as quickly.
What is a ‘swing point’ in the market?
To put this in a little simpler terms, I’m assuming you have looked at a basic price chart before. If you have, you probably noticed that markets don’t move in straight lines for very long. Instead, price will ‘swing’ from high to low points in the market. Especially in a trending market, thesechart swing points are critical points on a price chart where we can anticipate a price action signal to form at, and that often provide high-probability entries just before a trend is getting ready to resume.
The chart below shows us what swing high points and swing low points look like. This market was trending higher, so as swing traders we would have looked for an entry near the swing lows…
Swing trading is the art and skill of reading a price chart to anticipate the next ‘swing’ in the market. I use price action trading strategies to find high-probability entries in the market at these swing points, you may see me refer to this as ‘buying weakness’ or ‘buying the dips’ in a rising market and ‘selling strength’ or ‘selling the rallies’ in a falling market. This terminology refers to the general approach that a swing trader uses; buying as a market falls down and hopefully buying the swing low point (or close to it) within an up-trending market, the opposite would be the case for a down trend of course.
Other reasons why you should become a swing trader
Now that we’ve discussed what swing trading is and the main reason why you need to learn it and make it your trading method, let’s discuss some of the other benefits of it.
As I’ve written about at length in other articles; when you trade the daily chart time frame as a swing trader does, you are reaping many benefits compared to those poor souls who still believe scalping a 5-minute chart is the key to success.
One of the reasons why swing trading is such a huge advantage to the retail trader, is that it allows you to skip all the market ‘noise’ of short time frames, like those under the 1-hour chart. Brokers and the big institutional traders WANT smaller retail traders to trade short time frames and day-trade / scalp, because they know they will get your money easily if you do.
Swing trading on higher time frames like the 4 hour and daily allows you to piggy back off the big moves created by the bigger players in the market, and it also allows you to place your stop loss outside of their reach, thus giving you greater ‘staying power’ so that you can stay in the market longer and increase your chances of getting aboard a big, profitable move.
Fit trading in around your schedule
Swing trading allows you to fit trading in around whatever busy schedule you may have, or if you don’t have a busy schedule it will allow you to make money trading and still enjoy your free time. There’s nothing more boring than having to sit in front of the charts all day, not to mention that it’s bad for your trading and your health.
Swing trading allows you to analyze the markets on your schedule, for short periods of time, because you are focusing on higher time frames as mentioned above. Also, because you are holding your trades for a day or more in most cases, you can enter a trade on a Tuesday let’s say, then go to sleep and wake up a day later and check on your trade. You do not need to sit there all night worrying about your trades, nor should you. An almost ‘magical’ thing happens when you stop paying so much attention to your trades; you start to see better trading results.
People over-complicate their trading by simply being too involved. Swing trading is the best method because it’s complementary to how you should behave in the market because it rewards you for being less involved and taking less trades over time, which is exactly what you need to do if you want to have any chance at success. The take home message here is, swing trading will help you avoid over-trading, and over-trading is the biggest reason why people lose their money trading.
Don’t be fooled by the marketing and gimmick trading systems out there. If you’ve been around the trading block a few times already you probably know what I’m talking about here. There are a lot of promises and guarantees out there in the trading world, but the question you should be asking is not about guarantees but about the method itself. Is the method actually going to teach me to understand a price chart and how to catch big moves in the market? Is it actually going to teach me how to trade properly? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself about any trading system or education you are considering, because these are ones that matter. Do not fall prey to big claims of fast money and fully-automated trading robots; remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.