Swing trading is a popular strategy involving holding a stock for a brief period to capitalize on short-term price movements, says Steve Burns of New Trader U.

Long-term investors aim to profit from the overall trend of an individual stock or the stock market based on fundamentals. Swing traders focus on identifying opportunities to buy low and sell high or trade with momentum within a shorter time frame, usually a few days to a few weeks. If you’re interested in learning how to swing trade stocks, the following steps can help you get started.

The keys to successful swing trading:

  1. Choose a large brokerage firm and open an account.
  2. Identify stocks to swing trade and put them on your watchlist.
  3. Set your entry and exit points as signals on your trading plan.
  4. Manage your trades as they play out to maximize wins and minimize losses.
  5. Review and journal your trades.

Choose a Brokerage Firm and Open an Account

Selecting a brokerage firm is important in getting started with swing trading. A brokerage firm is a financial services company that allows you to buy and sell stocks and other securities through its platform. There are many different brokerage firms to choose from, so it’s important to research and select one that meets your needs.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a brokerage firm:

  • Trading fees: Look for a brokerage firm that charges reasonable trading fees. Some firms charge a flat fee per trade, while others charge a percentage of the trade amount. It’s crucial to choose a broker based in your own country and not offshore so that it’s properly regulated.
  • Tools and resources: Choose a brokerage firm that offers a good selection of tools and resources to help you make informed trades. This may include charts, technical analysis tools, market news and commentary, and educational materials.
  • Ease of use: Consider the user experience when choosing a brokerage firm. You’ll want to select a platform that is easy to navigate and use, with a clean and intuitive interface.

Once you’ve selected a brokerage firm, you’ll need to open an account. This typically involves filling out an application and providing personal and financial information. The process may vary depending on the brokerage firm you choose, so follow their instructions carefully. You also need to deposit enough capital to properly execute your system with proper diversification and position sizing.

Identify a Stock to Trade

Identifying a stock to trade is an important step in swing trading. One way to find potential trades is to look for stocks in a price range. A stock trading in a range has established a clear pattern of oscillating between a high and low price over time. This can allow swing traders to buy at the low end of the range and sell at the high end, capturing the difference as profit.

You can use technical analysis and chart patterns to identify stocks trading in one direction with momentum. Technical analysis studies historical price and volume data to identify current trends and patterns indicating potential future activity. Chart patterns, such as head and shoulders or flag and pennant patterns, can provide insight into a stock’s potential price movements.

In addition to looking for stocks trading in a range, it’s also important to consider the company’s underlying fundamentals. This may include financial health, industry trends, and news or events that could impact the stock’s performance. By taking a holistic approach and considering both technical and fundamental analysis, you can increase your chances of identifying potential swing trades.

Fundamental analysis can tell you what to trade, technical analysis can tell you when to trade it.

Set Your Entry and Exit Points

Setting your entry and exit points is an important step in swing trading. Your entry point is the price at which you plan to buy a stock, and your exit point is the price at which you plan to sell it. These points will help you determine when to enter and exit a trade and can help you manage your risk and maximize your profits.

There are several factors to consider when setting your entry and exit points. One approach is to use technical analysis to identify support and resistance levels, which are price points at which a stock is likely to experience buying or selling pressure. You can also use chart patterns and indicators, such as moving averages to trade directional swings or relative strength index (RSI), to help identify potential entry and exit points at extreme overbought and oversold levels on a chart.

In addition to setting a specific price as your exit point, you can also use a stop-loss order to minimize losses if the stock moves against you. A stop-loss order is a type that automatically sells a stock if it falls below a certain price, known as the stop price. This can help you manage your risk and limit potential losses if the stock does not perform as expected.

Monitor Your Trade

Monitoring and managing your trade and adjusting as needed are important parts of successful swing trading. As a swing trader, you’ll need to closely monitor the stock price and any relevant news that could impact its performance. This may include earnings releases, regulatory announcements, or macroeconomic news that could affect the market.

If the stock moves in your favor, you may consider adjusting your exit point to lock in profits. For example, if the stock rises above your target exit point, you may want to consider selling it to capture the gains. On the other hand, if the stock moves against you and falls below your entry point, you may need to reevaluate the trade and consider closing it at a loss. Another trade management tool is the trailing stop that follows behind tracking your winning trade and signaling an exit on any big reversals against your position.

It’s also important to be prepared for unexpected events that could impact your open trade. This may include breaking news that causes market volatility by broader economic or geopolitical factors. By staying informed and being willing to make adjustments as needed, you can increase your chances of successfully navigating these challenges and managing your trades effectively.

Review Your Trades

After you have made a few swing trades, it’s important to take some time to review what worked and what didn’t. This can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your swing trading strategy. There are several key things to consider when reviewing your trades:

  • Performance: Look at the overall performance of your trades. This includes your profit or loss on each trade and the percentage of winning and losing trades.
  • Entry and exit points: Review the entry and exit signals you used for each trade. Consider whether these points were appropriate based on the stock’s performance and whether you could have improved your results by adjusting them or managing the trade better if you’re a discretionary trader.
  • Risk management: Evaluate your risk management strategy. This may include considering whether you used appropriate stop-loss orders, were properly diversified, and accurately assessed each trade’s risk. Proper position sizing versus stop loss level and maximum open positions is the most important parts of risk management.

By reviewing your trades and analyzing what worked and didn’t, you can identify areas for improvement and refine your swing trading strategy. This may involve adjusting your entry and exit points, fine-tuning your risk management approach, or identifying new resources or tools to help you make more informed trades based on backtesting and identifying repeating patterns. By continuously learning and refining your strategy, you can increase your chances of success as a swing trader. It’s important to learn from any mistakes in trade execution, risk management, or your own mental trading errors due to emotions and ego to stop repeating them.


Swing trading can be a rewarding way to profit from the stock market, but it requires careful system development and managing trades to be successful. By identifying stocks trading in a range or with momentum, setting clear entry and exit points, and continuously monitoring and adjusting your trades, you can increase your chances of making profitable swing trades. Reviewing your trades and refining your strategy over time is also important to improve your overall performance. Swing trading can be a profitable endeavor with the right strategy over time.

Learn more about Steve Burns at NewTraderU.com.