Intro to Technical Analysis in Crypto Trading

June 12, 2024
@Justin Wise
Lead Technical Analyst, Co-Founder


Imagine the thrill of turning a modest investment into a substantial portfolio. That's exactly what Alex did, not by relying on gut feelings or Twitter “alpha,” but by harnessing the power of technical analysis. His strategy was built on meticulous study of market patterns and technical indicators, enabling him to make informed decisions and maximize his returns from the volatile crypto market.

What is Technical Analysis?

Technical analysis (TA) is a methodology used to evaluate investments and identify trading opportunities by analyzing data gathered from trading activity, such as price movement and volume. Unlike fundamental analysis, which assesses an asset’s value based on business results such as sales and earnings, TA focuses solely on price and volume data.

In the world of cryptocurrency, where assets often lack the business data fundamental analysts rely upon, technical analysis takes on a crucial role. Traders here scrutinize historical price movements and trading volumes to forecast the future behavior of digital currencies. Technical analysts believe that the historical performance of markets and cryptocurrencies tends to repeat itself due to the collective, patterned behavior exhibited by investors; therefore, TA aims to use past data to predict future market outcomes.

Benefits of Technical Analysis

The primary advantage of technical analysis in crypto trading is its potential to help traders make more informed and less emotional decisions. Here are a few benefits that technical analysis brings to the table:

Identification of Trends: Technical analysis helps traders and investors identify trends and market sentiment, which can inform their trading decisions.

Enhanced Risk Management: By understanding potential future movements and market structures, traders can better manage their risk, placing stop losses and limit orders more effectively.

Timely Entry and Exit Points: Technical analysis provides tools to help traders decide when to enter and exit trades, potentially increasing profitability.

Limitations of Technical Analysis

While technical analysis offers significant benefits, it's important to understand its limitations. It's not a magical tool that guarantees profits, but rather a part of a comprehensive trading strategy. Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Market Sentiment: Technical analysis may not always account for sudden changes in market sentiment, which can lead to significant price movements.
  • Historical Bias: TA assumes that all necessary information is reflected in price and volume, which might only sometimes be the case, especially in less liquid markets.
  • Self-fulfilling Prophecy: Commonly used indicators and strategies can sometimes lead to predictable outcomes that cause the market to react in ways that fulfill the prediction.

Structure of this Article

This article will explore various aspects of technical analysis tailored for the beginner crypto trader. The sections are as follows:

  • Technical Indicators: Delve into various indicators like Moving Averages, MACD, RSI, and Bollinger Bands.
  • Crypto Chart Patterns: Understand how patterns like head and shoulders, triangles, and flags can signal future price movements.
  • Trading Strategies: Learn how to combine these tools to develop robust trading strategies.
  • Understanding Support and Resistance: Learn the critical concept of support and resistance levels, which help determine potential buy and sell points.

By the end of this guide, you should have a solid foundation in technical analysis for crypto trading, helping you to make more informed decisions and manage your investments with greater confidence.

Understanding Crypto Charts and Price Action

For new investors and traders venturing into the volatile world of cryptocurrency, mastering the art of reading charts is crucial. Technical analysis in crypto trading can seem daunting at first; however, understanding the visual language of crypto charts can significantly enhance your ability to make informed trading decisions. This section delves into the essential components of crypto charts and explores key strategies such as price action analysis and the use of support and resistance levels.

Components of a Crypto Chart

Crypto charts are the canvas where the trading drama unfolds, visually representing trading activity over time. Here’s what you need to know about the essential components of these charts:

  • Price Points: The critical component of any price chart is how price is displayed. Price can be displayed in various ways, but the most common types are Candlesticks and Bars. Other common types include Renko, Heikin-Ashi, Point & Figure, and Range.
  • Timeframe: The selected timeframe of a chart determines the time each point on the chart represents. If the timeframe is set to one hour (1H), then each point on the chart will display what price did over an hour. Common timeframes include minutes, hours, days, and even weeks.
  • Price Axis: Typically located on the right side of the chart, this vertical axis displays a cryptocurrency's price levels.
  • Volume Axis: Often shown at the bottom of the chart, this axis represents the total volume of the asset traded within the selected timeframe, helping traders gauge the strength of price movements.
  • Indicators: Technical Indicators are tools that exist alongside a price chart, helping traders identify oversold or overbought levels, support and resistance, trend strength, and much more. These indicators can live below or above the price chart, and some even live directly inside the price chart itself, overlaid on top of price.

Candlestick Charts

Candlestick charts are one of the most popular tools in technical analysis for crypto trading. Each candlestick provides four critical pieces of information: the opening price, the closing price, the highest price, and the lowest price during the period. By analyzing candlestick patterns and formations, traders can discern important details for predicting future price movements. Here’s how to interpret a candlestick:

  • Bullish Candlesticks: These are typically green or white, indicating that the closing price was higher than the opening price, suggesting buying pressure.
  • Bearish Candlesticks: Usually red or black, these candlesticks show that the closing price was lower than the opening price, indicating selling pressure.
  • Candle Body: The solid or colored part of a candlestick. This represents the difference between the opening and closing prices of the candle.
  • Wicks: Also called tails or shadows. Wicks represent the difference between the highest and lowest prices of the candle.
  • Candlestick Formations: Every candlestick is unique, based upon the trading activity within that specific time. Despite this, common candlestick formations have been identified and associated with high probability outcomes, such as reversals or continuations. Common formations include Hammers, Hanging Mans, Bullish Engulfing, and Bearish Engulfing.
  • Candlestick Patterns: Multiple candlestick formations, such as shooting stars, morning stars, three white soldiers, and three black crows, have been identified and associated with high probability outcomes.

Understanding these candlestick differences helps traders anticipate potential market movements.

Price Action Analysis

Price action analysis is a trading technique that relies on visually interpreting an asset's raw price movements without the use of indicators. Recent and historical price movements are used to identify trade setups. Price action traders believe they can discern patterns and make predictions based on the actual movements observed on the chart, providing direct insight into market sentiment and potential price shifts.

Support and Resistance Levels

Support and resistance levels are fundamental concepts in technical analysis. They identify price levels on a chart where a trend is more likely to pause or reverse. Support and resistance levels can be horizontal or angled lines drawn on a chart, and they represent areas where price has previously reversed direction or is likely to reverse direction.

  • Support Levels: These are price levels indicating a lower boundary that price has struggled to fall below or where a downward trend is expected to pause due to a concentration of demand or buying interest. As the price drops to a support level, buyers are typically expected to enter the market and prevent further price declines.
  • Resistance Levels: These levels indicate an upper boundary that price has struggled to exceed or where an upwards trend may pause temporarily, halted by a surge in selling pressure. As prices rise to a resistance level, it is common for sellers to enter the market, leading to a stabilization or decrease in prices.

Identifying these levels can help traders make strategic decisions about entry and exit points and form trading strategies based on their observations of price’s reaction to such levels.

Drawing Trendlines

Trendlines are simple yet powerful tools to determine market direction and identify resistance and support levels. Drawing a trendline involves connecting at least two price highs or lows to represent support or resistance. Here are steps to effectively draw trendlines:

  • Identify the Points: Choose at least two significant lows to draw an upward trendline (support) or two significant highs for a downward trendline (resistance).
  • Connect the Points: Draw a straight line connecting these points. This line helps visualize the potential barrier or support that prices will encounter. Extending the line into the future or to the right of the chart can often help.
  • Interpret the Trend: A trendline can indicate whether to expect a continuation of the current trend or a reversal as prices approach these lines.

Traders and investors can leverage the power of technical analysis regardless of their strategy. By integrating these elements of TA into your trading strategy, you can develop a deeper understanding of market trends and price dynamics, leading to better trading decisions and outcomes. Remember, while technical analysis can provide invaluable insight, it is not magic and is simply one tool in your toolkit. 

Essential Technical Indicators for Crypto Trading

While price action analysis can be a powerful tool, many struggle to master it completely. Many traders (including myself) rely heavily on technical indicators to trade more competently and confidently. Technical indicators leverage complex algorithms that analyze the statistics of market activity, like price change and volume. This section explores essential technical indicators that can enhance your trading strategy by providing insights into market trends, momentum, and potential entry and exit points.

Introduction to Technical Indicators

At their core, technical indicators are mathematical calculations based on the price, volume, or open interest of an asset or contract. Technical indicators do not analyze the fundamentals of an asset, like earnings, revenue, or profit margins (which often don’t exist in crypto). Instead, they focus solely on market data. 

These indicators are primarily used to forecast price trends, identify potential reversal points, or judge the current trend's strength. For example, suppose a cryptocurrency has risen in price for several consecutive days. In that case, technical indicators might signal that it will continue on its rise or reverse based on the underlying statistics. This ability to interpret market movements is invaluable in markets as volatile as cryptocurrency, where price swings can occur suddenly and without notice. 

Indicators come in various forms, each designed to provide different insights into market activity. Some common categories include trend indicators, momentum indicators, volatility indicators, and volume indicators. By applying these indicators to price charts, traders can accurately determine entry and exit points, maximize their potential returns, and, importantly, manage their risk exposure. The effective use of technical indicators can significantly enhance a trader’s ability to make informed decisions and is integral to developing a sophisticated trading strategy in the crypto market.

Popular Technical Indicators

Moving Averages (MA)

Moving averages help smooth out price data by filtering out “noise” from random short-term price fluctuations. This creates a single flowing line, making it easier to identify the direction of the trend. There are several types of moving averages, but the most common are the Simple Moving Average (SMA) and the Exponential Moving Average (EMA).

Simple Moving Average (SMA)

Calculated by averaging a set number of past price points. Generally, a rising SMA indicates an uptrend, while a declining SMA suggests a downtrend. 

Exponential Moving Average (EMA)

Similar to the SMA, the EMA gives more weight to recent prices, which makes it more responsive to new information.

Both types of moving averages are used to identify trend direction and potential support and resistance levels. When the price of an asset moves above a moving average, it can be a signal to buy, and when it drops below a moving average, it can be a signal to sell. Also, crosses between short-term and long-term moving averages (such as the 50-day and 200-day) are often watched as significant signals for bullish or bearish market shifts.

Relative Strength Index (RSI)

The RSI is a momentum oscillator that measures the speed and change of price movements on a scale from 0 to 100. It is most commonly used to identify overbought or oversold conditions in a market. An asset is generally considered overbought when the RSI is above 70 and oversold when below 30. These signals suggest that the asset's price may be getting too high or too low and could be due for a reversal.

Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD)

The MACD is a trend-following momentum indicator that shows the relationship between two moving averages of an asset’s price. The MACD is calculated by subtracting the 26-period EMA from the 12-period EMA. The result of that calculation is the MACD line. A nine-day EMA of the MACD called the "signal line," is then plotted on top of the MACD line, which can trigger buy and sell signals. Traders may buy the asset when the MACD crosses above its signal line and sell or short the asset when the MACD crosses below the signal line.

Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands consist of three bands: upper, middle, and lower. The middle band is an SMA, and the upper and lower bands are usually two standard deviations above and below the middle band. These bands adjust themselves to market conditions and can help measure price volatility. When the bands tighten during periods of low volatility, it may indicate that a sharp price move in either direction is approaching.

Stochastic Oscillator

This momentum indicator compares a particular closing price of an asset to a range of its prices over a certain period. The oscillator's sensitivity to market movements is reduced by adjusting that period or taking a moving average of the result. It generates overbought and oversold trading signals using a 0-100 bounded range of values.

Cracking Cryptocurrency Proprietary Indicators

Up to this point, the indicators we have discussed are very popular and widespread, and some may even say, ‘vanilla.’ We also must accept that these technical indicators were created over 20 years ago specifically to forecast stock markets. Cryptocurrency wasn’t even around when these tools were invented, and many things have changed since the good old days.

Over the last decade, a plethora of custom technical indicators have been created specifically for cryptocurrency markets, including our proprietary indicators in our Premium Technical Indicator Suite.

We designed our proprietary indicators to make better trading decisions ourselves, and one of our passions has been sharing these tools and techniques with the broader trading community. 

  • Time Transformation: Our custom version of the Fisher Transform indicator is programmed to analyze multiple time frames of an asset to arrive at more precise buy and sell signals, identify divergence, and alert us to unusual trading volume. It is highly customizable and easily integrated with automated setups for complete trading automation.
  • Mynx: A powerful trend-following indicator with logic built into facilitate our Pathways to Profit strategy. Continuation Trades, Early Exit Signals, and Full Take Profit Signals are all built-in. Designed to identify when a trend is beginning and when you can safely re-enter into a previous trend.
  • Quadrigo ATR: Our custom version of the Average True Range allows a trader to identify objective and high-probability targets and Stop-Loss levels for their trade based on true market volatility and not arbitrary price levels. This tool also automatically calculates the recommended position size based on our position sizing methodology.
  • Base Line: Our powerful trend direction tool. Highly customizable and enables a trader to identify the dominant direction of price with a single glance. Additional features include volatility warnings, trading channels, and alerts when trading is not suggested.
  • Bottom Feeder: The Bottom Feeder is designed to algorithmically detect significantly oversold price conditions that represent profitable buying opportunities. Combining this with its unique Stop and Target System, the Bottom Feeder is designed to return consistent returns with minimal drawdown. Whether used as a Market Bottom Detector or as a system for executing safe, profitable mean reversion trades, the Bottom Feeder is a powerful tool in any trader’s arsenal.
  • CC EMA: Our custom Moving Average script is used by thousands on TradingView.
  • Parallax: A unique take on the RSI and Commodity Channel Index indicators. Parallax analyzes the value of RSI relative to the value of CCI. A much more accurate trend reading can be determined by looking at the convergence or divergence of these two indicators. No more using these oscillators to pick false tops and bottoms; instead, we can utilize their relative conditions to determine market trend. We can identify objective signals when we cross the barrier between convergence and divergence, giving us clear buy and sell signals for any trading asset.
  • Waddah Attar Explosion: An entry indicator that analyzes momentum and volume. This indicator is very sensitive and works well on lower time frames for scalping and higher time frames for confirming explosive movements or shifts in trend or rising directional momentum in the market. This indicator can be used as an Initiator, Confirmer, or Vol. Filter. Its multiple components make it highly effective in any trader's tool belt.
  • Our Premium Technical Indicator Suite also includes our custom versions of the Ichimoku, Fisher Transform, Super Duper DEMA, and VWMA/SMA 3 Commas Bot. These are designed to identify high-probability entry and exit points and assist the trader with understanding price movement.

Utilizing Multiple Indicators

While each indicator has strengths, they are best used with other tools to confirm trends and signals. For instance, a trader might use RSI in combination with MACD to confirm momentum before making a trading decision. Additionally, employing multiple indicators can help filter out the "noise" and reduce false signals, leading to more precise trades.

While many decry the use of technical indicators in trading and instead advocate a pure price action approach, I personally believe very strongly in their value. My entire technical approach to the markets relies upon the signals I receive from technical indicators, and my life’s work is Pathways to Profit, a course designed to teach how to build a profitable trading system from indicators alone. 

Integrating technical indicators into your trading can give you more confidence and help you make better decisions. Remember, no indicator is perfect, and using them in isolation can lead to misleading interpretations. Consider the broader market context and other fundamental factors when trading in cryptocurrency.

Developing Trading Strategies with Technical Analysis

Regardless of your trading experience, incorporating technical analysis can be a key factor in better trading decisions. This section explores how to leverage technical analysis into actionable trading strategies, focusing on trend-following and mean reversion techniques and emphasizing the importance of risk management and backtesting.

From Indicators to Strategies

Technical analysis can provide a wealth of data. It is crucial to understand how to interpret these indicators and translate them into actionable strategies. For instance, a trader might consider entering a long position if the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) indicates a potential bullish crossover. Conversely, a bearish crossover could signal an opportunity to sell short.

Regardless of the specific indicator or what it measures, the first step is always finding the objective signal that the technical indicator provides. Once that has been identified, a trader can “backtest” that signal on historical data to determine how accurate or profitable it is.

Trend Following Strategies

One of the most popular approaches in crypto trading is trend following. This strategy involves identifying the direction of the market trend and making trades that align with this direction.

  • Moving Averages: Moving averages are a simple yet effective tool for trend following. Traders often watch for crossovers of short-term and long-term moving averages to signal entry points. For example, when a short-term moving average (such as the 10-day EMA) crosses above a long-term moving average (such as the 50-day EMA), it suggests an upward trend, indicating a buying opportunity.
  • Momentum Oscillators: Momentum oscillators are another crucial tool in trend following. They help identify overbought and oversold market conditions. By identifying a bullish price trend, for example, and waiting for the price to reach an oversold condition while still maintaining the uptrend, traders can more confidently “buy the dip” and enter their trade at a more optimal price.

Mean Reversion Strategies

Mean reversion strategies are based on the assumption that prices and returns eventually move back toward the mean or average. This strategy is particularly useful in range-bound or sideways markets.

  • Relative Strength Index (RSI): The RSI, a momentum oscillator that measures the speed and change of price movements, can help identify overbought or oversold conditions. With this data, traders can identify potential reversal points. For example, an RSI reading above 70 typically indicates that a cryptocurrency is overbought and may reverse from a peak, whereas an RSI below 30 might indicate an oversold condition prompting a bullish reversal.
  • Bollinger Bands: These bands adjust based on market volatility and mean price. When an asset's price moves outside of the bands, it may be considered unusually high or low relative to the mean, which can signal a potential return toward the mean.

Combining Strategies and Risk Management

While employing multiple technical indicators can improve your trading, integrating effective risk management techniques is also critical. Tools like stop-loss orders help limit potential losses, and position sizing ensures you are not overexposed on a single trade. Effective risk management not only protects your capital but also improves your overall trading performance.

Backtesting Strategies

Before implementing any new trading strategy, testing it using historical data is advisable. Backtesting allows you to assess the strategy's effectiveness and adjust parameters to optimize performance without risking actual capital. This practice helps refine trading strategies and increase confidence in their potential success.

By understanding and applying these techniques, new crypto investors can develop robust trading strategies based on solid technical analysis, paving the way for more successful trading outcomes in cryptocurrency.

Frequently Asked Questions

While technical analysis can be a powerful tool, newcomers to the trading scene often encounter challenges and have numerous questions about the practice. Here, we address some common queries to help beginners navigate the complexities of technical analysis in crypto trading.

What are some common mistakes beginners make with technical analysis?

Over-reliance on One Indicator

One frequent mistake beginners make is relying too heavily on one technical indicator without understanding the indicator’s context in the current market. While indicators like the RSI, MACD, and Moving Averages are valuable tools, they should not be the sole basis for trading decisions. Combining different types of indicators, analysis, and fundamentals can lead to better trades.

Ignoring Volume

Volume plays a crucial role in confirming trends identified through technical analysis. A price move with relatively high volume is a stronger signal that the move is significant and likely to continue.

Misreading or Overcomplicating Chart Patterns

New traders often misinterpret or overly complicate chart patterns. It's essential to gradually learn and apply these patterns and seek advice from more experienced traders or credible resources.

How much time should I dedicate to learning technical analysis?

The time required to learn technical analysis can vary based on personal aptitude, experience, and dedication. A few months of consistent study and practice can build a solid foundation. However, mastering technical analysis is an ongoing process as markets evolve and new tools and theories develop.

Can technical analysis guarantee profits in crypto trading?

Technical analysis does not guarantee profits; it improves the probability of successful trades based on statistical data. Various factors influence cryptocurrency markets, and their volatile nature can defy even the most solid analyses.

What other factors should I consider besides technical analysis?

While technical analysis is powerful, other factors should also be considered, such as:

  • Market Sentiment: Understanding the overall mood of the market can help interpret data more effectively.
  • Fundamental Analysis involves evaluating the underlying factors that affect a currency's value, such as economic indicators, security, technological advancements, and market news.
  • Risk Management: Implementing strategies to minimize losses, such as stop-loss orders and managing the size of your trades.

Are there any resources available to learn more about technical analysis?

Numerous resources can help expand your knowledge and skills in technical analysis:

  • Online Courses: Our Intro to Crypto Trading course is an excellent foundation for aspiring traders.
  • Books like "Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets" by John J. Murphy provide comprehensive insights. All subscribers to the Online Trading Academy receive access to our library, which contains over 18 GB of books, audio, and videos.
  • Trading Platforms: Many platforms offer educational tools and demo accounts to practice trading without financial risk.
  • Crypto Trading Communities: Forums and social media groups can provide support and insights from more experienced traders. Our Cracking Cryptocurrency Discord Server is one of the best resources for new traders.


In conclusion, technical analysis is an indispensable tool for cryptocurrency traders, particularly those new to the markets. Traders can gain deeper insights into market trends, momentum, and volatility by employing technical indicators such as Moving Averages, RSI, MACD, and Bollinger Bands. These tools help decipher crypto chart patterns and develop robust trading strategies while also identifying crucial support and resistance levels.

However, it's important to recognize that technical analysis is not infallible. While it enhances the likelihood of successful trades by providing statistically-backed insights, it cannot guarantee profits due to the inherently volatile nature of cryptocurrency markets. Successful traders often combine technical analysis with sound risk management practices and an understanding of market fundamentals to build a comprehensive trading approach.

For those eager to delve deeper into the intricacies of technical analysis in crypto trading, a wealth of resources is available—from our Intro to Crypto Trading course and extensive Library to our active trading community on Discord. Each can provide valuable learning opportunities and practical experience.

As you continue your journey in crypto trading, remember that the effective use of technical analysis requires practice and perseverance. Continuously refining your strategies and staying updated with new analytical methods will help you navigate the dynamic and sometimes unpredictable crypto market more effectively.

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