How to Swing Trade: A Beginner's Guide

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Contributor, Benzinga
September 27, 2023

If you're keen on trading stocks but lack the time or know-how to keep tabs on the market daily like a day trader, swing trading might work for you. This well-known approach involves keeping positions for several days to a few weeks. This article covers the fundamentals of swing trading and shows you how to swing trade like a pro.

What is Swing Trading?

Swing trading involves holding positions for a short time, usually from a few days to a few weeks. Swing traders use various methods to identify trading opportunities and capture price swings in the market. Unlike day trading, which requires constant monitoring, swing trading is less time-consuming, allowing traders to hold their positions overnight or over the weekend. It's also more active than long-term investing, taking advantage of short-term fluctuations, making it suitable for generating consistent returns in any market. 

How Does Swing Trading Work?

Swing trading involves capitalizing on market price cycles driven by supply and demand, emotions and news events. Traders use tools to identify the direction, strength and duration of trends. They enter the market near support or resistance levels and exit when the price hits their target or shows signs of reversal. 

The objective is to buy low and sell high, depending on the trend. This method allows for profits in bullish and bearish markets. Swing traders typically use timeframes ranging from a few days to a few weeks, analyzing chart patterns at daily, weekly or monthly intervals. Shorter intervals, like hourly or 15-minute, are used to fine-tune trades and monitor market conditions.

How to Start Swing Trading

If you want to start swing trading, preparing beforehand is important. Here are the necessary steps to take.

Setting Up Your Swing Trading Strategy

A swing trading strategy comprises rules and guidelines defining entry and exit points, risk management parameters and performance indicators. Some of the more popular swing trade strategies include:

  • Trend following: Following the direction of the dominant trend in the market and entering trades when the price pulls back or retraces to a support or resistance level
  • Breakouts: Entering trades when the price breaks out of a consolidation or range-bound pattern
  • Reversals: Entering trades when the price reverses from an overbought or oversold condition

Technical analysis tools are essential to implement your swing trading strategy. Technical analysis involves studying past price movements using charts and mathematical formulas to identify market trends, patterns, levels, signals and indicators.

Some of the most important technical analysis tools include:

  • Moving averages: Smooth out price data and identify trends, support and resistance levels, crossovers and signals. 
  • Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD): It measures the difference between two moving averages and a signal line and identifies trend direction, momentum, divergence and signals. 
  • Relative Strength Index (RSI): RSI gauges the strength of the price movement on a scale of 0 to 100 and identifies overbought and oversold conditions, divergence and signals.

Conducting Fundamental Analysis

Fundamental analysis involves analyzing the underlying factors that impact a company's value and performance. You can assess the potential of the stocks you want to trade by evaluating company financials, market trends and news events. Company financials provide insights into profitability, growth, efficiency, liquidity and valuation. Market trends help to identify opportunities and threats, while news events can signal positive or negative catalysts for a company or its industry, allowing you to anticipate and react accordingly. 

Choosing the Right Stocks for Swing Trading

Not all stocks are well-suited for swing trading. Look for stocks with high volatility, which means the stock has significant price swings in both directions, providing more opportunities for favorable trades. High liquidity is another key trait. These stocks have a high trading volume and narrow bid-ask spreads, allowing you to execute trades quickly and cheaply. 

It also helps to carry out sector analysis, which entails looking for promising, high-performing sectors like technology, healthcare and consumer discretionary. Also consider catalysts, which are events or factors that can trigger a significant change in the price or direction of a stock. Positive catalysts can include earnings beats, product launches or analyst upgrades, while negative catalysts can include earnings misses, product recalls or analyst downgrades.

You can use various tools and resources to find stocks that meet these criteria. Stock screeners are online tools that allow you to scan and sort stocks based on multiple parameters and criteria, such as price range, market cap, industry, volatility and earnings date. Graphical stock charts show price movements and technical indicators over time, helping you visualize and analyze trends, patterns, levels, signals and indicators. 

Managing Risk and Reward

Risk management involves minimizing potential losses while maximizing profits. Reward management involves optimizing returns while maintaining risk levels. You’ll need to carefully size positions according to your risk tolerance.

Setting stop-loss and take-profit levels helps you manage and limit potential losses while locking in profits. A stop-loss level is the predetermined price at which you exit your trade if it goes against you. A take-profit level is the predetermined price you leave if it goes in your favor. 

Developing a Disciplined Mindset

A disciplined mindset means having the mental fortitude and emotional regulation necessary to execute your strategy consistently and effectively. Psychological challenges and biases can hinder your performance, including fear of loss or missing out, greed for unrealistic returns, hope for favorable outcomes and regret for past mistakes. To develop a disciplined mindset, cultivate habits like patience in waiting for the right opportunities, confidence in your abilities and analysis, resilience in bouncing back from losses or setbacks and journaling to track progress and improve skills. 

Choosing the Right Brokerage Account for Swing Trading

The brokerage account you choose can affect your trading experience, costs and results. When selecting a brokerage account for swing trading, you should consider a few key factors:

  • Fees: You pay fees to the broker or platform for using their services, such as commissions, spreads and margin interest. You should look for a brokerage account with low or no fees to save money and increase profits. 
  • Research tools: These are features and resources that the broker or platform provides to help you conduct analysis and execute trades. Advanced and reliable research tools can enhance your accuracy and efficiency in swing trading. 
  • Customer support: The broker or platform's assistance and guidance to help you with issues and queries. Responsive and helpful customer support can resolve your problems and improve your swing trading experience.

Here is a popular brokerage options for swing trading:

Interactive Brokers: Interactive Brokers is one of the world's most advanced and sophisticated brokers, offering access to over 135 markets and 33 countries for swing trading. It has low commissions and margin rates, a robust trading platform called Trader Workstation, comprehensive research tools and market data and high-security standards. However, it has a steep learning curve, complex fee structure, high minimum account balance and poor customer support.

Swing Trading vs. Day Trading

Swing and day trading are two popular forms of trading, but they differ significantly. Swing trading involves holding positions for days or weeks, while day trading involves closing all positions before the end of the day. This distinction means swing trading requires less time and attention than day trading. Still, it exposes you to overnight and weekend risks.

Swing trading relies more on technical and fundamental analysis, while day trading depends on market sentiment and price action. Swing trading requires more research and planning than day trading, but also offers more opportunities and diversity.

Swing trading aims for larger profits per trade, while day trading aims for smaller profits per trade. Swing trading has higher potential returns than day trading but also higher potential losses.

Swing trading incurs lower transaction costs than day trading but higher financing costs, as it involves borrowing money or paying interest on margin accounts.

Swing trading may require more patience, confidence and resilience than day trading. It involves enduring extended periods of uncertainty and volatility. Swing trading can require more discipline, emotional control and risk management than day trading.

Swing Trading Mastery: Tips for Success

Swing trading is a popular trading style involving holding positions for a few days to a few weeks. To be successful in swing trading, you need to develop a trading plan and strategy, conduct technical and fundamental analysis, choose the right stocks, manage risk and reward, develop a disciplined mindset and select the right brokerage account. These tips can put you on the right track to swing trading success.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to find stocks to swing trade?


Find stocks with appropriate volatility and liquidity for swing trading by analyzing sectors and identifying those with positive catalysts that may increase prices. Use stock screeners and other tools to narrow down potential options.


What is a swing trade in forex?


A swing trade in forex involves holding positions for a few days to weeks to capture short-term price movements in the market.


How much money do I need to swing trade?


The money you need to swing trade depends on your risk tolerance and trading goals. A general rule of thumb is to start with at least $10,000 in capital to manage risk effectively.

About Anna Yen

Anna Yen, CFA is an investment writer with over two decades of professional finance and writing experience in roles within JPMorgan and UBS derivatives, asset management, crypto, and Family Money Map. She specializes in writing about investment topics ranging from traditional asset classes and derivatives to alternatives like cryptocurrency and real estate. Her work has been published on sites like Quicken and the crypto exchange Bybit.