Turtle Trading Strategy Explained: Rules and Techniques | TIOmarkets

BY TIO Staff

|June 11, 2024

The Turtle Trading Strategy stands as a hallmark in the world of financial trading, embodying a comprehensive system that leverages trends to maximize trading potential. This strategy, originally designed for commodities trading, has been adapted across various markets, offering traders a structured approach to capture profits from big market movements. In this article, we delve into the core principles, rules, and techniques of the Turtle Trading Strategy, providing insights into how traders can apply these concepts to enhance their trading performance.

Introduction to Turtle Trading

The Turtle Trading Strategy was conceived in the 1980s by Richard Dennis and William Eckhardt, who debated whether trading could be taught or was an innate ability. To settle this, they conducted an experiment, training a group of novices, later dubbed "Turtles," in a specific trading methodology. The success of these traders, who generated substantial profits, proved the effectiveness of the strategy and its teachability.

Core Principles

The strategy is built on the premise that markets will often trend for extended periods and that significant profits can be made by entering these trends early and holding positions until the trend weakens. It emphasizes strict risk management and discipline, requiring traders to follow the rules without deviation.

Another cornerstone of the Turtle Trading Strategy is its use of a mechanical rule-based system, which removes emotional decision-making from the trading process. This systematic approach ensures consistency in applying the strategy over time.

Key Components

The strategy consists of several key components, including position sizing, entries, exits, and stops. Position sizing is determined by the market's volatility, with more volatile markets warranting smaller positions to manage risk effectively. Entries and exits are based on the breakout of price from certain ranges, with stops placed to limit losses on each trade.

Rules of Turtle Trading

The Turtle Trading Strategy is governed by a set of rules designed to capture trends while managing risk. These rules cover every aspect of trading, from when to enter and exit trades to how much capital to allocate to each position.

Entry Rules

Traders enter positions when the price breaks out above (for long positions) or below (for short positions) the 20-day high or low. This breakout is considered an indication that a new trend may be starting, providing an opportunity to profit from the movement.

However, not all breakouts result in new trends. To filter out potential false signals, the Turtle Trading Strategy employs a "fail-safe" mechanism, requiring a second breakout in the same direction to confirm the trend before adding to the position.

Exit Rules

Exiting positions is equally systematic, with the strategy specifying two main exit points. The first is a stop-loss, triggered if the market moves against the position by a certain amount, limiting the potential loss. The second exit point is a trailing stop, which locks in profits as the trend progresses but exits the trade if the market retraces by a predefined amount.

Position Sizing and Risk Management

Position sizing is a critical aspect of the Turtle Trading Strategy, ensuring that each trade is sized appropriately based on the current market volatility and the trader's account size. This approach helps manage risk by preventing any single trade from having a disproportionate impact on the account.

Risk management rules dictate that only a small percentage of the total account value should be risked on any single trade, typically around 2%. This rule helps preserve capital during losing streaks and ensures that traders can continue trading even after a series of losses.

Techniques for Implementing the Turtle Trading Strategy

Implementing the Turtle Trading Strategy requires discipline and a systematic approach to follow the rules consistently. Here, we explore techniques to effectively apply the strategy in your trading.

Choosing the Right Markets

While the Turtle Trading Strategy was originally developed for commodity markets, it can be applied across various asset classes, including forex, stocks, and cryptocurrencies. The key is to choose markets that exhibit strong trends, as the strategy performs best in these conditions.

Using Technology to Your Advantage

Modern traders can leverage technology, such as trading platforms and software, to automate the Turtle Trading Strategy. This automation can help maintain discipline by executing trades according to the rules, without emotional interference.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

Despite its proven track record, the Turtle Trading Strategy is not a guarantee of success. Markets evolve, and strategies may need adjustments to remain effective. Continuous learning and adaptation, including backtesting adjustments and staying informed about market conditions, are essential for long-term success.

Enhancing Performance Through Psychological Discipline

Psychological discipline plays a crucial role in the successful implementation of the Turtle Trading Strategy. Traders must cultivate a mindset that allows them to adhere to the rules of the strategy even in the face of emotional impulses or external market pressures. Developing mental resilience and the ability to stick to the predefined rules can significantly enhance trading performance over time.

Emotional Control and Decision-Making

Emotions can often cloud judgment and lead to impulsive decision-making, which can be detrimental to trading outcomes. By practicing emotional control and maintaining a rational approach to trading, traders can avoid making hasty decisions that deviate from the strategy's guidelines. Techniques such as mindfulness and stress management can help traders stay focused and disciplined during volatile market conditions.

Journaling and Performance Evaluation

Keeping a detailed trading journal can provide valuable insights into trading performance and decision-making processes. By documenting each trade, including the rationale behind it and the outcome, traders can identify patterns, strengths, and areas for improvement. Regularly reviewing and evaluating trading performance can help refine strategies and enhance overall trading effectiveness.

Utilizing Fundamental Analysis in Conjunction with Technical Analysis

While the Turtle Trading Strategy primarily relies on technical analysis to identify trends and execute trades, incorporating fundamental analysis can offer additional insights into market conditions and potential catalysts for price movements. By combining both approaches, traders can make more informed trading decisions and better understand the underlying factors driving market trends.

Understanding Market Fundamentals

Market fundamentals encompass a wide range of economic, geopolitical, and industry-specific factors that can influence asset prices. By staying informed about key economic indicators, central bank policies, geopolitical events, and industry developments, traders can gain a deeper understanding of market dynamics and make more accurate predictions about future price movements.

Event-Based Trading Strategies

Event-based trading strategies involve capitalizing on specific events or announcements that can trigger significant price movements in the market. By combining fundamental analysis with technical indicators to identify potential catalysts, traders can position themselves to take advantage of market opportunities arising from news releases, earnings reports, or geopolitical developments.


The Turtle Trading Strategy offers a structured approach to trend trading, emphasizing discipline, risk management, and systematic rule-based decision-making. By understanding and applying the core principles, rules, and techniques of this strategy, traders can enhance their ability to capitalize on market trends. However, success requires adherence to the strategy's guidelines, continuous learning, and the willingness to adapt to changing market conditions.

At TIOmarkets, we are committed to providing traders with the tools and resources needed to implement effective trading strategies like the Turtle Trading Strategy. Explore our platform and discover how we can help you maximize your trading potential.

Start Your Trading Journey with TIOmarkets

Ready to put the Turtle Trading Strategy into action? Join TIOmarkets, a top-rated forex broker, and access a world of trading opportunities. With over 170,000 accounts opened in more than 170 countries, our platform offers you the chance to trade over 300 instruments across 5 markets, all with low fees. Enhance your trading skills with our comprehensive suite of educational resources and step-by-step guides. Don't wait any longer to elevate your trading game. Create a Trading Account today and start capturing the trends that could lead to your next big win.

Inline Question Image

Risk disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. Never deposit more than you are prepared to lose. Professional client’s losses can exceed their deposit. Please see our risk warning policy and seek independent professional advice if you do not fully understand. This information is not directed or intended for distribution to or use by residents of certain countries/jurisdictions including, but not limited to, USA & OFAC. The Company holds the right to alter the aforementioned list of countries at its own discretion.

Join us on social media

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.

24/7 Live Chat