How to Use Parabolic SAR in Position Trading?

BY TIO Staff

|June 20, 2024

The Parabolic Stop and Reverse (SAR) indicator is a powerful tool used by traders to determine the direction of a market's momentum and when this momentum is due to change. It is particularly useful in position trading, where understanding the long-term direction of market trends is crucial for success. This article delves into the intricacies of using the Parabolic SAR in position trading, offering a comprehensive guide to maximize its benefits.

Understanding Parabolic SAR

The Parabolic SAR is a technical analysis tool that is both predictive and reactive, providing clear entry and exit signals for traders. Its unique feature is its ability to highlight potential reversals in the price movement of an asset, making it an indispensable tool for position traders.

How Parabolic SAR Works

The Parabolic SAR places dots, or points, on a chart that indicate potential reversals in price movement. When these dots flip position, moving from above the price to below it, or vice versa, it suggests a change in trend. This simple mechanism allows traders to visually identify the current direction of the market momentum and anticipate shifts.

Its calculation involves an acceleration factor, which increases as the trend develops, allowing the SAR to catch up to price. This aspect of the Parabolic SAR makes it exceptionally useful for traders looking to maintain positions in long trends, adjusting their stops as the trend progresses.

Setting Up Parabolic SAR in Your Trading Platform

Implementing the Parabolic SAR in most trading platforms is straightforward. Traders can typically find it among the list of available indicators, ready to be applied to their charts with default settings. These settings can be adjusted to suit individual trading strategies and the volatility of the traded asset.

Understanding the asset's characteristics and how it responds to the Parabolic SAR's settings is crucial for optimizing its use. Experimentation and backtesting on historical data can help refine these settings for better performance.

Integrating Parabolic SAR into Position Trading Strategies

Position trading, with its focus on capturing larger market movements over weeks, months, or even years, requires a nuanced approach to indicator use. The Parabolic SAR, with its ability to provide ongoing guidance on market direction and potential reversals, fits well into this trading style.

Identifying Entry Points

One of the primary uses of the Parabolic SAR in position trading is to identify potential entry points. A shift in the position of the SAR dots from above to below the price signals a bullish trend, suggesting a buying opportunity. Conversely, dots moving from below to above the price indicate a bearish trend, signaling a selling or shorting opportunity.

These signals, while straightforward, should be confirmed with additional analysis to reduce the risk of entering on false signals, which can occur during periods of market consolidation or when the asset is trading sideways.

Setting Exit Points and Trailing Stops

Another advantage of the Parabolic SAR is its utility in setting exit points and trailing stops. As the trend develops, the SAR dots will adjust, providing a dynamic mechanism to manage stops and protect profits. This feature is particularly beneficial in position trading, where protecting gains in long-term trends is crucial.

By adjusting stop-loss orders to follow the SAR dots, traders can ensure they remain in the trade as long as the trend continues, but exit when the trend shows signs of reversal. This method helps in maximizing gains while limiting losses.

Risks and Considerations

While the Parabolic SAR is a valuable tool in a trader's arsenal, it is not without its risks and limitations. Understanding these is key to effectively using the indicator in position trading.

Over-reliance on the Indicator

One common pitfall is over-reliance on the Parabolic SAR for trading decisions. No indicator is infallible, and the Parabolic SAR is no exception. It works best when used in conjunction with other analysis tools and within the context of a comprehensive trading plan.

Adjusting for Market Volatility

The default settings of the Parabolic SAR may not be suitable for all markets or assets. High volatility can lead to frequent reversals in the SAR, potentially generating false signals. Traders should adjust the settings to match the volatility profile of their asset, reducing the risk of whipsaws and improving the reliability of the signals.

Advanced Strategies for Parabolic SAR

For traders looking to delve deeper into the capabilities of the Parabolic SAR, there are advanced strategies that can enhance its effectiveness in position trading. One such strategy involves combining the Parabolic SAR with other technical indicators to confirm signals and filter out false alarms.

For example, pairing the Parabolic SAR with the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) indicator can provide a more comprehensive view of market trends. When the Parabolic SAR generates a signal in the direction of the MACD trend, it adds a layer of confirmation to the trade setup.

Additionally, incorporating support and resistance levels into the analysis can help traders identify key price levels where the Parabolic SAR signals are more likely to be valid. This combination of indicators and price levels can significantly improve the accuracy of trading decisions.

Backtesting and Optimization

Before implementing advanced strategies involving the Parabolic SAR, traders should conduct thorough backtesting to assess the effectiveness of the combined indicators. Backtesting involves applying the strategy to historical data to evaluate its performance under various market conditions.

By analyzing past trades and adjusting the strategy parameters based on the backtesting results, traders can optimize the use of the Parabolic SAR in conjunction with other indicators. This iterative process of testing and refinement is essential for developing robust trading strategies.


The Parabolic SAR is a versatile and powerful tool for position traders, offering clear signals for entry and exit points as well as a dynamic method for managing stops. When integrated thoughtfully into a trading strategy, and used in conjunction with other analytical tools, it can significantly enhance a trader's ability to capture and protect gains in long-term market trends. However, traders must remain aware of its limitations and adjust their use of the indicator to suit the specific characteristics of the asset and the prevailing market conditions.

Start Trading with Parabolic SAR on TIOmarkets

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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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