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7 Indicators To Use For Technical Analysis In Crypto Trading

Last Updated August 15, 2023 4:00 PM
Andrew Kamsky
Last Updated August 15, 2023 4:00 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Technical analysis uses statistical tools to analyze historical price data, helping traders anticipate future price movements.
  • Moving averages (SMA and EMA) are effective in identifying trends and support/resistance levels.
  • The RSI measures overbought and oversold conditions, aiding in potential trend reversals.
  • Technical analysis has limitations, such as subjectivity bias, past performance not being a guarantee of future results, and limited predictive power.

What Is Technical Analysis In Crypto Trading 

Traders use various strategies built on technical analysis (TA) to anticipate future price movements and guide individuals on their buying or selling decisions. TA is a combination of statistical analyses that aims to make sense of historical price data to achieve profitable trading outcomes.

TA consists of chart patterns, indicators, and oscillators to analyze price versus time. However, TA does not guarantee profitability, but  when coupled with other forms of analysis, like Fundamental Analysis, the trader/investor puts themselves in a better position to make more informed decisions. 

Overview Of Indicators For Technical Analysis

Moving Averages

Moving averages are common and useful tools to identify the price trends of an asset. Normally, when price trends are above the 20 period moving average this may suggest a continuation of an upward trend in price and vice versa when it is below the moving average. 

Simple Moving Average (SMA) 

The SMA is a widely used indicator that plots the average price over a specified period. It is calculated by adding up the price of an asset over a certain number of periods and then dividing the result by the same number of periods. That average price plot is then illustrated as a smooth line on the chart, making it easier to identify the overall trend, by removing noise from a chart arising from price volatility.

50 Day Simple Moving Average
50 Day Simple Moving Average | Credit: Trading View

Exponential Moving Average (EMA) 

The EMA assigns more weight to recent prices which makes it more responsive to current price movement. This indicator is useful for tracking fast-changing markets, as it can provide earlier signals for potential reversals and also filters out the noise making it a useful indicator to front run a change in trend.

50 Day Simple Moving Average
50 Day Exponential Moving Average | Credit: TradingView

Moving Averages for Trend Identification and Support/Resistance 

Both the SMA and EMA can become powerful tools for trend identification. One of the most common sayings in crypto trading is “the trend is your friend”, as a result, if the speculator is on the right side of the trend which is illustrated by the SMA and EMA they are more likely to be in a healthy trade.

Relative Strength Index (RSI) 

The RSI measures the time and size of recent price fluctuations in an asset, allowing for the evaluation of whether the price of that same asset is currently overvalued or undervalued.

The RSI uses a scale from 0 to 100 to track the speed and size of price changes. 

These numbers illustrate ‘overbought’ or ‘oversold’ market conditions which serves as information that helps signal when a market is heavily traded in one direction and might potentially be due for a correction. By keeping track of the RSI, traders anticipate potential reversals of momentum. This information may be extremely useful in their decision-making when deciding to enter or exit a trade.

The RSI is typically calculated using a 14-day timeframe. For example, let us assume, over 14 days, we had 10 days of gains and 4 days of losses. To make sense of the speed and magnitude of price movement, the average of the gains from the 10 positive days is taken and divided by said 14 days and vice versa for losses. The result of this is a percentage lying between 0% and 100%.

Relative Strength Index | Credit: Trading View
Relative Strength Index | Credit: Trading View

When the RSI value exceeds 70% or 80% the asset is considered overbought indicating a potential opportunity to sell. Conversely, an RSI value below 30% or 20% signifies an oversold condition which might present a buying opportunity. It is extremely important to understand that these figures and understandings are not set in stone. 

As RSI is not foolproof and can produce false signals in certain market conditions other indicators need to be used at the same time. The RSI can often remain in oversold or overbought territory for a long time. This leads to divergence in the RSI versus price action.

RSI divergence occurs when the price is moving contrary to the RSI. When this happens the indicator signals either: 

  • Positive divergence: This happens when the price of an asset is falling, but the RSI is rising. This could indicate a potential upward reversal of the price.
  • Negative divergence: When the price is rising, but the RSI is falling, it’s a negative divergence. It suggests a potential downward reversal in price.

Traders can use divergences to spot potential trend changes before they play out. Divergences provide advantageous opportunities to capitalize on entry or exit points in the market. Remember, divergences are not always accurate and should be used in combination with other indicators to confirm signals.

Bollinger Bands 

Bollinger bands are a type of statistical chart overlay that characterize price volatility in markets. They consist of three lines; The middle line is the SMA, while the upper and lower bands are set two standard deviations above and below this average. 

Bollinger Bands | Credit: Trading View
Bollinger Bands | Credit: Trading View

It indicates how much the values in the band deviate, on average, from the mean value being the SMA. The widening or narrowing of the bands represents increased or decreased volatility, respectively. This indicator helps traders identify overbought or oversold conditions, reversals, and price targets.

As the bands widen, this signals increased market volatility away from the mean price due to larger price fluctuations. Conversely, narrowing bands suggest reduced volatility which indicates price consolidation. Prices are usually contained within the bands. If prices touch or move outside the bands, it’s considered a significant event. 

MACD (Moving Average Convergence Divergence)

The MACD is a momentum oscillator primarily used to trade trends. While functioning as an oscillator, its primary purpose does not involve identifying overbought or oversold conditions. Instead, it manifests on the chart as two unbounded lines that oscillate called the: 

  • MACD line: Calculated by taking the variance between a “fast” exponential moving average (EMA) and a “slow” EMA of the price series. It is calculated by subtracting the 26-period EMA from the 12-period EMA.
  • Signal line: Is made up of a moving average (usually a 9-period EMA) of the MACD line, confirming potential buying or selling signals. 

Traders use the interaction between the MACD line and the signal line to make informed trading decisions as crossovers between these lines serve as trading signals. The MACD can also be represented as a histogram, indicating the distance between the MACD and signal lines. 

When using the MACD oscillator, a bullish move is identified when the MACD line crosses above the signal line, indicating a potential trend reversal and an increase in upward momentum. 

Conversely, a bearish move is identified when the MACD line crosses below the signal line, suggesting a possible trend reversal and a strengthening of downward momentum. The MACD is best used in trending and volatile markets and should be combined with other tools for effective trading decisions.

Fibonacci Retracement 

Fibonacci retracement is a popular technical analysis tool derived from the Fibonacci sequence. It is used by plotting horizontal lines at key percentage points, which work in harmony with Fibonacci levels and sequences.

Key areas of interest in Fibonacci retracement levels are; 23.6%, 38.2%, 50%, 61.8%, and 78.6%. With these percentages, traders can identify key support and resistance levels on a price chart. 

If the price of an asset is moving upwards, the Fibonacci retracement levels act as a potential resistance zone, where buying interest may exhaust once the price reaches these levels. If the price shows a reversal near a Fibonacci retracement level, it suggests that the level will hold significance as a current resistance point or future support zone.

Fibonacci Levels | Credit: Trading View
Fibonacci Levels | Credit: Trading View

In addition to retracement levels, Fibonacci extensions are used when price discovery is taking place. This means the price is above its prior all-time high. In this instance, traders can use Fibonacci extensions to predict swing highs. The extensions commonly used are 127.2%, 161.8%, 200%, and 261.8%. Fibonacci levels are not foolproof and should be used in conjunction with other technical analysis tools and market indicators.

Volume Analysis

Volume analysis focuses on studying trading volume and its implications in financial markets. Volume can provide valuable insights into market dynamics and make informed trading decisions.

This form of TA involves the examination of the volume of crypto traded in conjunction with price movements. In an uptrend, increasing volume during price advances reinforces the bullish sentiment, indicating strong buying pressure. 

Conversely, decreasing volume during price rallies might signify weakening buyer interest and potential trend reversal. Similarly, in a downtrend, rising volume during price declines confirms bearish sentiment, while declining volume during price drops may indicate diminishing selling pressure and potential trend reversal. 

Charts displaying volume bars alongside price charts are often utilized to visualize volume analysis. These charts represent the volume of trades executed during each price interval, providing a graphical representation of trading activity and aiding in the interpretation of volume patterns.

Stochastic Oscillator 

The Stochastic Oscillator consists of two components: 

  • %K: This element in the oscillator compares the current closing price to the price range over a specified period, typically 14 periods. It represents the momentum of the price movement. 
  • %D: This is a component that is a moving average of %K and smooths out the fluctuations, providing a more reliable signal.

Similar to the RSI, the stochastic oscillator uses a scale from 0 to 100. Readings above 80 are considered overbought, indicating that the asset’s price has potentially risen too far, too fast, and a correction may be imminent. Readings below 20 are considered oversold, suggesting that the price has potentially fallen too far, too fast, and a rebound may occur. 

It is important to note that the stochastic oscillator is most effective in trending markets and may produce false signals in sideways or choppy conditions.

Limitations Of Technical Analysis In Cryptocurrency Trading

As cryptocurrency trading continues to gain popularity, traders must understand the limitations of technical analysis which includes:

  • Pump-and-dumps: Be aware that many cryptocurrenciesaltcoins in the cryptocurrency markets are highly volatile due to a lack of liquidity and susceptible to pump-and-dumps schemes. This means a coin will experience a rapid price increase and sudden dump. In such instances, technical analysis is less reliable, due to the nature of the price movement and lack of liquidity in the altcoin.
  • Subjectivity: Technical analysis involves interpreting charts and patterns, which can be subjective. Traders can read TA incorrectly leading to frustrating outcomes.
  • Past performance doesn’t guarantee future results: Just because a pattern or indicator has worked in the past doesn’t guarantee it will be effective in the future. Market conditions can change, and certain patterns or indicators may become less reliable.
  • Limited predictive power: Technical analysis is based on historical data, which may not accurately reflect future market behavior. It may not anticipate sudden or unexpected events called black swan events that can significantly impact prices. An example of a black swan event is the March 2020 Covid breakout worldwide. 

While technical analysis isn’t always perfect, it can aid traders in long-term profitability. Reflecting on trading experiences, studying wins and losses, allows continuous learning and improvement in using technical analysis effectively.


Traders should approach trading with a combination of caution, strategy, and continuous learning. Adopting a mentality that aims to utilize a range of technical analysis tools such as the moving averages, the RSI and MACD, and patterns like Fibonacci retracement. However, it’s crucial to recognize the limitations and risks associated with technical analysis.

Traders should also consider fundamental analysis and stay updated with market news. Emphasizing risk management, maintaining a disciplined approach, and adapting to market changes are essential for long-term success. By constantly refining their skills and strategies, traders can navigate the unpredictable nature of the markets, especially the crypto market, more effectively.


What is technical analysis in crypto trading? 

Technical analysis (TA) in crypto trading refers to the use of statistical analyses, chart patterns, indicators, and oscillators to analyze historical price data. Traders utilize TA to anticipate future price movements and make informed buying or selling decisions.

Can technical analysis guarantee profitability? 

No, technical analysis does not guarantee profitability on its own. However, when combined with other forms of analysis like fundamental analysis, it can provide traders with a better understanding of the market and improve their decision-making process.

What are some commonly used indicators in technical analysis?

Moving averages, such as Simple Moving Average (SMA) and Exponential Moving Average (EMA), help identify trends and support/resistance levels. The Relative Strength Index (RSI) gauges overbought or oversold conditions. Bollinger Bands indicate volatility and potential price targets. The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) serves as a momentum oscillator, and Fibonacci retracement levels assist in identifying key support/resistance zones.

What are the limitations of technical analysis in crypto trading? 

Technical analysis has limitations, including the risks of pump-and-dump schemes in volatile cryptocurrency markets, subjectivity in interpreting charts and patterns, past performance not guaranteeing future results, and the inability to predict unexpected events like black swan events. For this reasoning, continuous learning and improvement are crucial for effectively utilizing technical analysis in the dynamic world of cryptocurrency trading.

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