Trading Indicators
Mar 22, 2023

Understanding Bollinger Bands and How to Use Them in Trading

Robin Bohrer
Robin Bohrer

Bollinger Bands are a powerful technical analysis tool used by traders to better understand price movements and volatility in the market. Developed by John Bollinger in the 1980s, this indicator can help you make more informed trading decisions. In this article, we'll explore what Bollinger Bands are, how they work, and how to use them in trading.

What are Bollinger Bands?

Bollinger Bands are a set of three lines plotted on a price chart. They consist of:

  1. A simple moving average (SMA) – This is the middle line, also known as the "basis."
  2. An upper band – This line is calculated by adding a specified number of standard deviations to the SMA.
  3. A lower band – This line is calculated by subtracting a specified number of standard deviations from the SMA.

The space between the upper and lower bands represents the price volatility of a financial instrument. When the bands are wide, it means that the market is experiencing high volatility. Conversely, when the bands are narrow, it indicates low volatility.

How to Use Bollinger Bands in Trading

There are several ways to use Bollinger Bands in trading. Here are some popular strategies:

1. Identifying Overbought and Oversold Conditions

When the price of an asset touches or goes beyond the upper band, it's considered overbought, and a price reversal may be imminent. Conversely, when the price touches or goes below the lower band, it's considered oversold, indicating a possible upward price movement. However, it's crucial not to rely solely on this signal, as prices can remain overbought or oversold for extended periods.

2. Bollinger Band Squeeze

The Bollinger Band Squeeze is a strategy that focuses on identifying periods of low volatility. When the bands are narrow and close together, it's called a "squeeze." This situation often precedes a significant price movement, either upward or downward. Traders can use the squeeze as an opportunity to prepare for a potential breakout and enter a position accordingly.

3. Bollinger Bounce

The Bollinger Bounce is based on the idea that prices tend to "bounce" between the upper and lower bands. When the price hits the upper or lower band, it's likely to reverse direction and head back towards the middle band. Traders can use this pattern to enter long positions when the price bounces off the lower band or short positions when it bounces off the upper band.

4. Combining Bollinger Bands with Other Indicators

To improve the effectiveness of Bollinger Bands, many traders combine them with other technical indicators, such as the Relative Strength Index (RSI) or Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD). Combining indicators can help confirm trading signals and reduce the risk of false breakouts or reversals.

For example, when the price touches the upper band, and the RSI indicates overbought conditions (above 70), it could strengthen the case for a potential price reversal. Similarly, if the price touches the lower band and the RSI shows oversold conditions (below 30), it could suggest an upcoming upward price movement.

Tips for Using Bollinger Bands

Here are some essential tips to keep in mind when using Bollinger Bands in your trading:

  1. Adjust the settings: The default settings for Bollinger Bands are a 20-day simple moving average and +/- 2 standard deviations. However, you can adjust these settings to better suit your trading style or the specific asset you're trading.
  2. Look for confirmation: As mentioned earlier, combining Bollinger Bands with other technical indicators can help confirm trading signals and reduce the risk of false signals.
  3. Don't rely solely on Bollinger Bands: While Bollinger Bands can be a useful tool, they should not be the only factor in your trading decisions. Incorporate fundamental analysis, risk management, and other technical indicators into your trading strategy.
  4. Practice patience: Bollinger Bands can help identify potential trading opportunities, but it's crucial to wait for confirmation before entering a position. Be patient and avoid making impulsive decisions based on Bollinger Band signals alone.


In conclusion, Bollinger Bands can be a valuable addition to your trading toolbox. As you gain experience using them, you'll develop a better understanding of how they can complement your existing trading strategies and help you navigate the ever-changing financial markets.

Looking to learn more about technical analysis tools? Check out our comprehensive guide on Technical Analysis for Beginners.

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