dYdX logo
dYdX logodYdX icon

Swing Trading: A Beginner-Friendly Guide

Swing Trading

Trading means balancing timing and analysis, and each decision can be the difference between profit and loss. Strategies vary as wildly as the markets themselves, and understanding the nuances of each approach is the key to success. 

Among the diverse strategies traders employ, swing trading stands out for its unique approach to capitalizing on market momentum. The method finds its niche between the high-octane rush of day trading and the patient, long-haul approach of buy-and-hold investing. 

In this guide, we’ll explore how swing trading can harness short- to medium-term fluctuations in the market and offer a compelling blend of pace and perspective. We’ll also uncover how it can strategically exploit the market's rhythmic swings to potentially yield lucrative outcomes.

What is swing trading?

Swing trading is a method where a trader, or a swing trader, holds an asset for several days to weeks, aiming to profit from anticipated swings or changes in price action. It involves a more moderate pace, facilitating detailed technical analysis of chart patterns and market trends. 

The technique relies on identifying the proper entry and exit points within short-term movements, often aided by different technical indicators. A well-executed swing trade leverages market volatility to capture profits from these short-term fluctuations while avoiding the risks associated with longer downtrends or uptrends.

Swing trading strategy

Developing effective swing trading strategies is vital when trading in a constantly changing market. Here are two crypto trading strategies that could help traders maximize their profits:

  1. Risk/reward ratio: This is a fundamental concept in swing trading. A recommended ratio of at least 2:1 means for each dollar risked, a trader aims for a minimum of two dollars in profit. This approach focuses on maximizing potential returns while minimizing exposure. 

  2. Chart patterns: These provide crucial insight into technical analysis. For example, flags indicate continuation trends, cup and handle patterns suggest bullish continuation, and moving average crossovers can signal trend reversals. Triangles––whether symmetrical, ascending, or descending––pinpoint consolidation before a breakout. Alternatively, reversal candlesticks, like dojis or hammers, often signal trend changes. 

These tools, combined with volume analysis and the relative strength index (RSI), help traders identify quality entry and exit points, shaping a sound trading strategy.

The CANSLIM method

CANSLIM is a typically long-term strategy that can be tailored for swing trading cryptocurrencies. Each letter represents a key investment criterion:

  • C (current performance): Focus on cryptocurrencies showing significant recent performance or growth, especially in market capitalization or adoption rates.

  • A (annual growth trends): Look for consistent growth patterns in the cryptocurrency's value or technological development over recent years.

  • N (new developments): Prioritize cryptocurrencies with recent innovations, partnerships, or influential endorsements, which could drive value appreciation.

  • S (supply-and-demand dynamics): Analyze the supply (like coin limits) and demand factors (such as user adoption rates) that might influence price volatility.

  • L (leaders versus laggards): Compare cryptocurrencies within the same category [like decentralized finance (DeFi) or privacy coins] to identify market leaders and laggards using tools like market cap rankings or trading volume analysis.

  • I (institutional interest): Consider the level of interest from established financial institutions or significant investors in the crypto market.

  • M (market sentiment and trends): Stay updated on the latest market sentiment and trends, as cryptocurrencies tend to be highly responsive to market moods and global economic factors.

Advantages of swing trading

Swing trading strikes a balance between the fast-paced environment of day trading and the long-term commitment of buy-and-hold strategies. It offers several advantages that cater to a variety of traders, from novice to seasoned. Here are a few:

  • Offers flexibility: Swing trading doesn’t require continuous market monitoring, meaning it’s ideal for traders who can’t dedicate their entire time to numbers.

  • Has potential for quick profits: Traders can leverage short-term market fluctuations for considerable gains within a relatively brief period.

  • Provides a streamlined trading process: Employing technical analysis tools, such as chart patterns and indicators, rather than a combination of both technical and fundamental analyses makes the decision-making process straightforward, helping traders understand short-term market trends.

  • Makes strategy application easy: Swing trading allows traders to apply various trading strategies to adapt to changing market conditions and make intelligent decisions.

  • Balances risk exposure: With proper risk management techniques like stop-loss orders, swing traders can control potential losses, making it a relatively risk-averse strategy compared with others like day trading (more on this in a bit).

  • Helps with skill development: Swing trading provides an excellent opportunity for traders to refine their market analysis and strategic planning skills.

Disadvantages of swing trading

While swing trading offers several benefits, it's important to acknowledge its potential drawbacks. Here are a few:

  • Overnight and weekend market risk: Swing traders face the risk of market fluctuations when they hold positions overnight or over the weekend, potentially leading to unpredictable losses due to volatility.

  • Market reversals: Swing trading is susceptible to sudden market reversals. Even with a sound swing trading strategy, these reversals can lead to substantial losses, particularly in a bear market.

  • Missing long-term trends: Focused on short-term movements, swing traders might miss out on larger, more profitable long-term trends prevalent in the market.

  • Emotional and psychological stress: The need for frequent decision-making in swing trading can lead to increased emotional and psychological stress, especially in highly volatile market scenarios.

  • Constant learning: Swing trading demands continuous learning, upskilling, and adaptation to new market conditions and techniques, which can be challenging and time-consuming.

What is day trading?

Day trading is characterized by the buying and selling of financial instruments within the same trading day. Traders using this strategy capitalize on small price movements in highly liquid stocks or currencies. The key objective is to make frequent, small gains, which can accumulate significant profits over time. 

Swing trading vs. day trading: Key differences

Swing and day trading are two popular trading styles, but each has its unique characteristics. Here are a few of their primary distinctions: 

  • Time frame and involvement: While swing trading involves holding positions for several days to weeks, requiring less continuous monitoring than day trading, day trading requires opening and closing positions within the same day, necessitating constant market observation.

  • Technical analysis and strategies: Both trading styles rely on technical analysis. However, day trading often requires quicker decision-making and can involve more complex trading strategies due to the shorter time frame.

  • Risk and reward: Day trading can offer rapid gains but comes with higher risk and stress levels due to the fast-paced nature of the trading day. Swing trading, while still risky, facilitates more deliberate decision-making and potentially less daily stress.

  • Advantages with swing trading options: Swing trading offers many advantages for options traders. Unlike the high-speed nature of day trading, swing trading options allow traders to harness slower, more significant market trends over several days or weeks.

What is long-term position trading?

Long-term position trading allows traders to hold onto their purchases for an extended period, typically several months to years. This approach is often associated with a buy-and-hold philosophy, where traders purchase assets expecting the value to grow over time. These traders focus more on the fundamental analysis, looking at factors like the financial health of companies, market trends, and economic indicators to make their decisions.

Swing trading vs. long-term position trading: What’s the difference?

Swing trading and long-term position trading are distinct approaches in the market. Here’s how they vary:

  • Duration: While swing traders hold their positions for a short to medium term, typically a few days to several weeks, long-term position traders hold for several months to years.

  • Analysis method: Swing trading heavily relies on technical analysis, using chart patterns and technical indicators to predict short-term market movements, whereas its long-term position counterpart focuses on fundamental analysis.

  • Market volatility response: Swing trading seeks to capitalize on short-term market volatility and trends. Long-term position trading, on the other hand, is generally less reactive to short-term market fluctuations.

  • Trading frequency: While swing trading involves more frequent trading and active position management, long-term position trading needs less frequent trading, favoring a more passive approach.

Money management in swing trading

Effective money management strategies are vital in swing trading, given the inherent risks of market fluctuations. It’s recommended for swing traders to limit the total capital committed to a single trade to help control potential losses. A good risk management strategy includes strategically placing stop-loss orders to cap losses if market conditions turn unfavorable.

Traders should also periodically assess and adjust their trading strategies in response to market changes. This involves keeping a trading journal and analyzing the effectiveness of current risk management techniques, including adherence to predetermined risk/reward ratios.

Elevate your swing trading journey with dYdX

dYdX stands out as a platform that empowers eligible traders to perfect their craft. Swing trading not only involves crunching numbers but also making clever choices in DeFi. Looking to up your game? Check out dYdX Academy. It’s loaded with easy-to-understand guides on everything swing trading, including topics like different types of blockchains, tokenomics, and smart contracts. Also, head to our official blog that’s packed with the latest news from the team, and eligible traders can start trading on dYdX today.


The content of this article (the “Article”) is provided for general informational purposes only. Reference to any specific strategy, technique, product, service, or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by dYdX Trading Inc., or any affiliate, agent, or representative thereof (“dYdX”). Use of strategies, techniques, products or services referenced in this Article may involve material risks, including the risk of financial losses arising from the volatility, operational loss, or nonconsensual liquidation of digital assets.  The content of this Article does not constitute, and should not be considered, construed, or relied upon as, financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, investment advice, or advice of any other nature; and the content of this Article is not an offer, solicitation or call to action to make any investment, or purchase any crypto asset, of any kind.  dYdX makes no representation, assurance or guarantee as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information in this Article or any third-party website that may be linked to it.  You are solely responsible for conducting independent research, performing due diligence, and/or seeking advice from a professional advisor prior to taking any financial, tax, legal, or investment action.

You may only use the dYdX Services in compliance with the dYdX Terms of Use available here, including the geographic restrictions therein.

Any applicable sponsorship in connection with this Article will be disclosed, and any reference to a sponsor in this Article is for disclosure purposes, or informational in nature, and in any event is not a call to action to make an investment, acquire a service or product, or purchase crypto assets.  This Article does not offer the purchase or sale of any financial instruments or related services.

By accessing this Article and taking any action in connection with the information contained in this Article, you agree that dYdX is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any errors, omissions, or delays related to this Article, or any damage, injury, or loss incurred in connection with use of or reliance on the content of this Article, including any specific strategy, technique, product, service, or entity that may be referenced in the Article.