by Boris Schlossberg
No chart pattern is more common in trading than the double bottom or double top. In fact this pattern appears so often that it alone may serve as proof positive that price action is not as wildly random as many academics claim. Price charts simply express trader sentiment and double tops and double bottoms represent a re-testing of temporary extremes. If prices were truly random, why do they pause so frequently at just those points? To traders the answer is that many participants are making their stand at those clearly demarcated levels.
If these levels undergo and repel attacks, they instill even more confidence in the traders who've defended the barrier and, as such, are likely to generate strong profitable countermoves. Here we look at the difficult task of spotting the important double bottom and double tops, and we demonstrate how Bollinger Bands can help you set appropriate stops when you're trading these patterns.
React or Anticipate?
One great criticism of technical pattern trading is that setups always look obvious in hindsight but that executing them in real time is actually very difficult. Double tops and double bottoms are no exception. Though these patterns appear almost daily, successfully identifying and trading them is no easy task.
There are two approaches to this problem and both have their merits and drawbacks. In short, traders can either anticipate these formations or wait for confirmation and react to them. Which approach you chose is more a function of your personality than relative merit. Those who have a fader mentality - who love to fight the tape, sell into strength and buy weakness - will try to anticipate the pattern by stepping in front of the price move.
Reactive traders, who want to see confirmation of the pattern before entering, have the advantage of knowing that the pattern exists but there's a tradeoff: they must pay worse prices and suffer greater losses should the pattern fail.