Updated on August 2023 by Sharon Lewis.
It could be argued that there are as many trading strategies as there are traders. Every trader has their own individual approach and traits that are particular to them.
However, there are some broader approaches to trading which have become popular over decades. These tried-and-tested methods continue to be used by traders worldwide. Find out more about these different trading approaches and discover the best trading strategy for you.
In this guide, we will look at:
What are Trading Strategies?
Trading strategies are systematic approaches employed by traders to make informed decisions in financial markets. They are step-by-step approaches that help traders capture opportunities amidst volatilities in the market and manage their risk.
Trading strategies can be short-term or long-term, depending on the time horizon of the trades, and they often involve setting:
By using trading strategies, traders can decide when to buy and sell, what volume to trade, and how to protect themselves from big losses.
1. Position Trading
Position trading involves taking a position aligned with the primary trend over a short to intermediate-term time frame, usually defined on a daily chart. To use the popular trading metaphor, the trend is your friend.
While various approaches can be employed, the core principle revolves around holding positions for several days or even weeks. This strategy capitalizes on major market movements and trends.
Pros of position trading:
- Position trading doesn’t need constant attention, which can be less stressful for traders compared to shorter-term strategies.
- By focusing on the bigger picture, position traders can catch major market trends and potentially earn significant profits.
- Position traders aren’t bothered by the day-to-day market ups and downs, which can help them make calmer decisions.
Cons of position trading:
- It might take a while to see the results of a position trade, and tying up money in a trade for a long time might not be suitable for everyone.
- Short-term changes that aren’t visible on a daily chart might impact position traders without them realizing.
- Position trading can also mean sticking with a losing trade for longer if the trend goes against your view, potentially leading to bigger losses.
2. Swing Trading
Swing trading is like position trading, but the swing trader would look to identify the swings in both directions within the primary trend. Swing trading is usually done on a short-term basis, as opposed to an intermediate or longer-term time frame.
Typically, swing traders would hold views and positions in a market for a couple of days or for 1-2 weeks. Both position and swing traders often use trading strategies, like trend trading, counter-trend trading, momentum trading or breakout trading.
Pros of swing trading:
- Placed somewhat between short-term day trading and long-term, swing trading allows traders to capture price moves over a few days to weeks.
- By aiming to catch price swings within trends, swing traders can benefit from both upward and downward market movements.
- Swing trading doesn’t demand the constant attention needed in day trading. This reduces the pressure on traders, making it more accessible to those with full-time jobs or other commitments.
Cons of swing trading:
- Holding positions for several days exposes traders to overnight market movements and potential gaps, which could lead to unexpected losses.
- Swing traders might not catch every short-term price movement, potentially missing rapid market fluctuations that occur within their chosen time frame.
- Swing traders may find it challenging to predict and adapt to sudden shifts in market sentiment or unexpected news events that can disrupt their planned trades and strategies.
3. Day Trading
Day trading is simply trading within the day. The key characteristic of a day trader is that they will open and close their open trading positions within the same trading day.
This does not imply that day traders only trade once each day. In fact, most day traders have tactics where they buy and sell frequently throughout each trading day.
A key feature of day trading is to be “flat” at the end of the day. This means the day traders have closed out of all open positions before the end of the trading day. Day traders often use technical analysis as a key tool, employing technical indicators like RSI, MACD, and the Stochastic Oscillator, to help identify market conditions and assist with trading decisions.
Pros of day trading:
- Day trading aims to capitalise on short-term price movements within a single day, providing opportunities for faster earnings.
- Day trading eliminates the risk of being exposed to overnight market volatility or unexpected news events that can impact their trades.
- Day trading doesn’t tie up capital for extended periods, allowing traders to access their funds at the end of each trading day. This can be appealing for those who prefer more liquidity.
Cons of day trading:
- The fast-paced nature of day trading can be mentally and emotionally demanding for trader, and new traders may be prone to impulsive decision-making.
- Short-term price movements can be influenced by random fluctuations, making it challenging to distinguish between meaningful trends and temporary market movements.
- Frequent buying and selling in day trading can lead to higher transaction costs, including commissions and fees.
4. Price Action Trading
Price action trading is simply trading the price action, which is the various moves, changes and shifts in price over differing time frames. Price action traders identify how these price changes build into price trends or price patterns, then trade with the price action.
First, it is necessary to decide on the time frame that you want to trade on, and then identify which price action trading strategy you are going to use. Price action traders look for the dominant price action on their time frame, recognise the trend or the pattern that is dominant, then enter trades in the direction of the price action signal.
Pros of price action trading:
- Price action trading relies on price movements on a chart, without the need for complex indicators or tools.
- Price action traders study patterns, trends, and candlestick formations to understand market psychology and sentiment, potentially providing insights into future price movements.
- Price action principles can be applied to various markets and time frames, making it versatile for traders interested in stocks, forex, commodities, and more.
Cons of price action trading:
- Analysing price action patterns can be subjective, as different traders might interpret the same chart differently.
- Effectively understanding price action patterns and trends often requires experience and a deep understanding of market dynamics.
- Price action patterns are not foolproof indicators and can sometimes generate false signals, leading to incorrect trading decisions.
5. Algorithmic Trading
Algorithmic trading or algo trading is a strategy where a set of commands are decided upon and entered into a computer model. It is an automated trading process that uses data such as price, time and trading volume, plus complex formulas, and mathematical models.
Algorithmic trading is a rules-based strategy, with the definition of the rules the critical input. The objective is to produce signals to buy or to sell, when and at what price to enter a trade, when and where to take profit or to place a stop-loss.
There is usually limited or no human interaction after the initial rules are defined by the algorithmic trader, though these rules are usually refined by the trader.
Pros of algo trading:
- Algorithms execute trades with exceptional speed, reacting to market changes in milliseconds. This speed can exploit short-lived opportunities and execute large orders more efficiently than manual trading.
- Algo trading removes the emotional biases that may affect human decisions. It follows predefined rules and strategies, preventing trading by feelings or impulses.
- Algorithms can be back-tested using historical data to assess their performance under different market conditions. This helps traders refine and optimize strategies before deploying them in real markets.
Cons of algo trading:
- Developing, implementing, and maintaining algorithmic trading systems require advanced technical skills and knowledge.
- Algorithms are susceptible to technical glitches, bugs, and connectivity issues that can lead to unintended trades if not adequately monitored and managed.
- Algorithms might struggle to adapt to unexpected news events or drastic market shifts, leading to unforeseen losses.
6. News Trading
News trading relies on fundamental events that can impact any financial market. This might be corporate events such as earnings reports or a larger macroeconomic, fundamental event that might impact any market.
News traders first look to identify possible macroeconomic or corporate events that are scheduled such as economic data or earnings release. They then analyse the potential impact of these events, the likely trading consequences and then shape a strategy around the event. News traders also seek to take advantage of market volatility due to breaking news.
The aim is to profit from price changes before, during or after the event.
Pros of news trading:
- Major news events can trigger substantial price movements, creating the opportunity for significant potential earnings in a short time
- News traders concentrate on specific events and their potential impact, allowing them to focus on a defined set of factors rather than the broader market.
- News traders thrive in volatile markets, where sudden price fluctuations are common. This volatility can lead to rapid price changes, providing opportunities for quick gains.
Cons of news trading:
- News trading carries substantial risk due to the unpredictable nature of market reactions to news events.
- Markets might react erratically to news, with prices swinging back and forth before settling into a direction. This can lead to false signals for traders.
- Executing trades at the precise moment of a news release can be challenging due to the speed at which prices change. Delays in execution can result in missed opportunities or unfavourable trades.
Trading Strategy Summary
|Trading Strategy Type||Time Span||Trading Time Period|
|Position trading||Short/intermediate term||days, weeks|
|Swing trading||Short/intermediate term||days, weeks|
|Day trading||Short-term||Minutes, hours|
|Price Action Trading||Short/intermediate term||minutes, hours, days, weeks|
|Algorithmic Trading||Very short-term (usually)||seconds, minutes|
|News trading||Very short-term/ short-term||Seconds, minutes, hours|
Which Trading Strategy is Best for You?
There are several factors to consider when deciding on what trading strategy suits you best. These include:
- Your individual psychology and make-up
- Your trading aims and goals
- The time you can devote to trading
- What “feels” right
Your personal psychology and background: It would be useful to first look at what you do and as important what you don’t bring as an individual to trading, from a psychological and personal perspective.
For example, if you do not have strong computing skills, then algorithmic trading is not for you. If you do have a strong analytical brain, then news trading may be a viable choice for you. If looking at charts to make decisions comes naturally to you, then perhaps swing or position trading, even day trading, would be a good fit for you.
Your trading goals: Are you looking to trade full time and make trading your primary source of income? If the answer is yes, then you would need to look at short-term trading such as day trading. But if you are looking to make top-up income, position or swing trading might be a better fit.
Time required: If you cannot follow markets closely throughout the day, then you cannot be a day trader. If you can give limited time each day to analyse markets and place orders, then maybe position or swing trading is a good fit.
What “feels” right: Try out different trading strategies using a demo account, to determine which approach suits you and what strategy is profitable.
Best Platform for Different Trading Strategies
If you’re unsure of how to get started with these different trading strategies or want to test a new strategy, you can do so on a demo account with zero risk to your capital.
Demo accounts are a great way to try new strategies in live market conditions and see what their outcomes could have been without risking actual capital. You can also practice on a demo account until you gain confidence in your ability to successfully trade your capital in real market conditions.
Want to get straight to trading? Open a live Hantec Markets account in minutes and start trading!
Also, read about avoiding common mistakes that retail traders make and get nine tips for new Forex traders and how to build a successful trading plan.