How to Use Average True Range (ATR) in Breakout Trading?

BY TIO Staff

|June 20, 2024

Breakout trading is a popular strategy among cryptocurrency traders, offering the potential for significant profits if executed correctly. Understanding and utilizing the Average True Range (ATR) indicator can enhance the effectiveness of this strategy by providing insights into market volatility. This article delves into the nuances of using ATR in breakout trading, tailored for both novice and seasoned traders in the crypto sphere.

Understanding Average True Range (ATR)

The Average True Range (ATR) is a technical analysis tool that measures market volatility by decomposing the entire range of an asset price for that period. In the context of cryptocurrency, which is known for its volatile nature, ATR becomes an indispensable tool for traders.

What is ATR?

ATR is a moving average, usually over 14 periods, of true ranges. A true range is the greatest of the following: current high minus the current low, the absolute value of the current high minus the previous close, and the absolute value of the current low minus the previous close. This indicator is not a direction indicator but a volatility measure.

Why ATR Matters in Crypto Trading

Cryptocurrency markets are notoriously volatile, making it challenging to predict price movements. ATR provides a quantitative measure of an asset's volatility over a specified period, allowing traders to adjust their strategies accordingly. High ATR values indicate high volatility, suggesting larger price movements, while low ATR values suggest less volatility and smaller price movements.

Applying ATR in Breakout Trading

Breakout trading involves identifying significant price moves that surpass defined resistance or support levels. ATR can be a critical tool in determining the potential success of a breakout, ensuring traders are not misled by false breakouts.

Identifying Breakouts with ATR

To use ATR in identifying potential breakouts, traders should look for a significant increase in ATR value, which indicates increased market volatility. This volatility can lead to price breakouts. By setting a threshold ATR value as a criterion for a breakout, traders can filter out insignificant price movements.

Moreover, traders can combine ATR with trend analysis to confirm potential breakouts. When ATR values are rising, and the price is trending in a particular direction, it strengthens the breakout signal. This convergence of indicators can provide traders with more confidence in their breakout trading decisions.

Setting Stop Losses with ATR

One of the key advantages of using ATR in breakout trading is its ability to help set effective stop-loss orders. By understanding the average volatility of a cryptocurrency, traders can set stop losses that account for market volatility, reducing the risk of being stopped out due to normal price fluctuations.

Strategies for Using ATR in Crypto Breakout Trading

Effectively incorporating ATR into breakout trading strategies requires a nuanced approach, considering the unique characteristics of the cryptocurrency market.

Adjusting for Crypto Volatility

Given the high volatility in crypto markets, traders might consider using a higher multiple of ATR when setting stop losses or identifying breakout thresholds. This adjustment accounts for the larger price swings typical in cryptocurrencies, compared to traditional markets.

Additionally, traders can employ ATR to determine position sizes based on volatility. Higher volatility may warrant smaller position sizes to accommodate larger price fluctuations, while lower volatility may allow for larger positions with tighter stop losses.

Combining ATR with Other Indicators

While ATR is a powerful tool for assessing volatility, combining it with other technical indicators can provide a more comprehensive view of the market. For instance, using ATR in conjunction with volume indicators can help confirm the strength of a breakout, while oscillators like RSI can indicate whether an asset is overbought or oversold at the breakout point.

Moreover, incorporating moving averages with ATR can offer insights into trend strength. When ATR values are high, and the price is above a moving average, it may signal a strong uptrend, reinforcing the breakout trading opportunity.

Risks and Considerations

While using ATR in breakout trading can enhance strategy effectiveness, traders should be aware of the risks and considerations associated with this approach.

False Breakouts

Even with careful analysis, false breakouts can occur, leading to potential losses. Traders should use ATR as part of a broader strategy, incorporating risk management techniques to mitigate these risks.

Market Anomalies

Cryptocurrency markets can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including regulatory news, market sentiment, and technological developments. These factors can cause sudden and unpredictable market movements, which may not always be captured by ATR.


Utilizing the Average True Range (ATR) in breakout trading offers cryptocurrency traders a valuable tool for navigating the volatile crypto markets. By providing insights into market volatility, ATR can help traders identify potential breakouts, set appropriate stop losses, and adjust their strategies to the unique dynamics of the crypto market. However, it's crucial to combine ATR with a comprehensive trading strategy and sound risk management practices to maximize its benefits and mitigate potential risks.

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Risk Disclaimer - of Liability: The authors, publishers, and distributors of this article are not responsible for any losses, damages, or liabilities that may arise from the use of the information contained herein. Readers are encouraged to seek professional advice from a qualified financial advisor before engaging in any trading activities.

By accessing this article, you acknowledge and agree that you are fully responsible for your trading decisions and any resulting outcomes. Always conduct thorough research and consider your financial situation, risk tolerance, and investment objectives before making any trading decisions.

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TIO Staff

Behind every blog post lies the combined experience of the people working at TIOmarkets. We are a team of dedicated industry professionals and financial markets enthusiasts committed to providing you with trading education and financial markets commentary. Our goal is to help empower you with the knowledge you need to trade in the markets effectively.

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