I've been writing online for over a decade now. And for that whole time I've been promoting the idea of daily study in both Market Structure and Price Action.
It's a simple task that takes no more than five minutes, but which offers incredible value to your own learning and development.
Sometimes this study fits within certain themes, if there is a particular feature of market structure which I want to focus on for a period of time.
Often though, it's completely unstructured. Simply searching for whatever captures my attention.
Either way, every trading day after the session is over, I look to the charts to find something interesting. Having done this for so long the findings are usually just reinforcing prior lessons. But occasionally, they'll uncover something new which can lead to further exploration, further learning and further growth and development.
The following are examples of entries in my Market Structure & Price Action Journal; although tidied up and expanded upon slightly to work in newsletter article & blog format. (The real journal rarely needs more than one image and a small handful of notes.)
I hope you find it useful. If you do, consider starting your own Market Structure & Price Action Journal.
Monday, 12th August 2019:
This was a difficult session. Choppy action. Narrow range (compared to recent sessions).
Definitely a session where you wish you just took a day off.
Of course, there's no way to know that till after the fact.
What is important though is accepting that such days are a normal part of the game. And in quickly recognising any potential for unfavourable conditions.
The sooner you can recognise potential danger, the sooner you can respond and adapt.
This doesn't always mean shutting down for the day. It may well be an option. But more often than not, it's just a warning to slow down a little. Step back and be patient. Wait for the easier opportunity perhaps at the edges of the structure. Don't jump into marginal opportunity just because you "want to" trade.
So that was the focus of today's entry into my Market Structure & Price Action (MSPA) Journal – What signs were present early in the session, which identified potentially unfavourable conditions?
This is one of my go-to, most reliable, signals for potentially dangerous conditions.
If the market sentiment was bullish or bearish then price would expand from the opening region. The fact that it can't, indicates either a lack of interest from both sides of the market, or at least roughly balanced commitment from both bulls and bears. Either way, a sign of potential chop ahead.
This is NOT a signal for no trading. But rather one of caution.
Take it slow. You don't have to trade every move. Wait for something that is screaming out to be traded.
One structural feature I hate is the presence of two "levels" within close proximity. Sometimes price gets stuck between the two leading to nothing good, unless you like getting caught in a real chop-fest.
And that's where we found ourselves today.
Opening range at the top. And the overnight low at the bottom.
If market sentiment were indeed bearish then this break should have held. It didn't.
Caution is required.
Again, this is not a "no-trade" signal. Just a warning that we're not likely to have an easy trending environment. Be patient and wait for the right opportunity. Maybe something like getting LONG on the retest of the overnight low!
Volatility contraction leads to volatility expansion.
Ok, not always.
But it's a good "rule of thumb" expectation.
So when we find ourselves stuck between the opening range and the overnight low, I was very interested to see the outcome of the break from this area of compression. If that could break the high of day, and hold the break, I'd be much more comfortable.
But no, it's not to be.
Immediate failure. And straight back into the chop zone.
This is a day for extreme caution.
- Price stuck at or within the opening range = CAUTION REQUIRED.
- Price stuck between two levels in close proximity = CAUTION REQUIRED.
- An inability for a break from volatility contraction to provide any meaningful expansion = CAUTION REQUIRED.
As mentioned earlier, this daily activity rarely takes more than about 5 minutes. But I feel that it's been an incredibly important part of my own learning and development.
Often there is nothing earth-shattering, although it can happen. Usually after having done this for so long I find it's just reinforcing prior observations and seeing new instances of prior patterns.
All acting to build upon the mental models which I will use in the future to navigate the unfolding landscape.
If you haven't done so already, consider adopting the same habit. Every day – find something interesting in the markets to add to your Market Structure & Price Action (MSPA) Journal.
And as a side-note… consider doing the same with trades as well. Every day – find one A+ trade opportunity, whether you took it or not. Study it. And add charts and notes to your Trades Journal.
Short-term minimal effort. Long-term massive gain!