Donchian Channels Unveil Highs and Lows to Determine Market Trends

Donchian Channels Unveil Highs and Lows to Determine Market Trends

Donchian Channels are trend-following indicators designed to spot price trends and identify trading opportunities. When breaking above an upper band or breaking below a lower band, traders should enter long positions whereas when breaking below either band they should shorten.

Richard Donchian designed his indicator with this purpose in mind and most traders use it accordingly today.


Donchian channels are trading indicators used by traders to detect possible breakouts and retracements in securities. Created by commodities and futures trader Richard Donchian, this strategy divides price history of an asset into three bands – upper band, lower band and average middle band – calculated using data for set periods of data. Upper and lower bands can be calculated using their highest high and lowest low values from that data set; middle band averaged them together and the result is determined accordingly.

Candlestick charts allow traders to easily visualize Donchian channels. Each candle represents one trading period; white candles indicate days where prices increase while black ones show days where prices decline. All three lines in a Donchian channel are connected by an additional horizontal line which serves as the average price over its period.

If the asset price breaks above the upper Donchian channel, this may signal a bullish trend and traders should open long positions in anticipation of price increasing. Conversely, if it breaks below the lower Donchian channel it could indicate bearish activity and traders should open short positions with an eye toward price falling.

Traders can use the Donchian channel to identify periods of low market volatility. To do this, they can pair this indicator with an volatility tool like ATR that allows them to identify these moments of calm and time their entry points into trades when ATR readings drop below an acceptable threshold level. When this occurs, traders can place long trades when prices hit either end of Donchian channels and short ones when prices come close to hitting either of the latter two Donchian channels respectively.


Donchian Channels are three-band trading indicators designed to help traders identify market trends and take positions to profit from them. When an asset price moves towards its upper band, this indicates bullish trends; long positions on financial instruments should be taken at this point; conversely if its price moves toward its lower band this indicates bearish ones and short positions should be taken accordingly.

Bearish trends should be entered as short positions on financial instruments. When an asset moves toward its midline price level, neutral trends exist which allow traders to keep their positions open until further indications surface.

This trading strategy draws inspiration from Richard Donchian, a renowned American commodities and futures trader who invented a moving channel trading strategy in the 1960s that remains widely utilized today for determining when it’s best to take long or short positions, and spotting emerging trends.

Donchian channels are one of several trading indicators that use moving average calculations, such as Bollinger Bands and Keltner Channels; however, Donchian channels differ by being easier for novice traders to understand due to their simplistic nature – they simply plot the highest high and lowest low on a chart over a specified number of periods, making it simpler for beginners.

Candlestick charts can be particularly effective for trading Donchian channels as they clearly display the open, high, low, and close prices over a given time period – this helps increase accuracy of channel predictions. Furthermore, using CLOSE_HIGH_LOW (close prices) instead of OPEN_HIGH_LOW (open prices) has shown to give better results as open prices may be affected by price spikes which distort channel borders.


Donchian channels are visual trend trading indicators designed to illustrate relationships between highs and lows over specific time frames. Consisting of three lines (upper, lower and middle), they form a channel around a stock’s price graph allowing traders to take long or short positions if its stock price lies within or exceeds it respectively.

To calculate Donchian channels, traders select a timeframe (n minutes/hours/days/weeks/months) and compare the highest and lowest prints during that period – selecting one for both upper and lower bands as appropriate; middle band is calculated by adding up highest high print to lowest low print and dividing by 2, then drawing Donchian channel along price bars on chart.

Donchian channels provide traders with a powerful buy and sell signal when prices cross their limits, providing strong buy/sell signals when crossed over by price. To capitalize on them, traders should watch for price to touch both upper and lower bands before verifying with candlestick movements that a breakout has taken place – touching either band will signal a buy signal while touching either will indicate sell.

Donchian channels can be combined with other technical indicators to detect volatility and identify potential reversals, but can often provide false signals during periods of high market volatility. Therefore, traders should utilize longer time frames when employing Donchian channels as well as paying close attention to current market volatility when analyzing Donchian channel trends – this way avoiding giving back more profits than necessary in case of pullback or spike in price movements. Traders should also consider employing trailing stop losses along with Donchian channels as another measure to minimize losses while maximize profits.


Donchian Channels are trend-following indicators that plot highs and lows over a predetermined time period, providing traders with ample flexibility when tailoring it to their trading strategy. Similar to Bollinger Bands, which also use an established period for calculations. While Donchian Channels are effective for spotting trends, they do not work well at predicting reversals; when prices break through the upper or lower bands without providing any indication that this means an imminent change of direction.

Traders can combine Donchian channels with other indicators to enhance the accuracy of their entry signals. For instance, they might pair them with momentum oscillators such as Relative Strength Index (RSI), Stochastic Oscillator or Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD). Doing this allows traders to identify overbought or oversold conditions that indicate possible reversals of trend.

As another way to enhance Donchian Channel entry signals, traders could reduce look-back periods. By doing this, traders would gain more entries per trading session but this may introduce greater volatility into their indicator.

As with other trend-following indicators, Donchian channels are most effective when traders combine them with a trading methodology that suits their style. If they’re following bullish trends, opening long positions as soon as the price passes above the middle line of the indicator could be appropriate; conversely if bearish trends dominate they would short assets once it goes below it.

An important component of this strategy is patience. Many traders will wait for an asset’s price to break through the center line of a Donchian Channel before opening long or short positions, helping avoid false breakouts that occur when prices fluctuate above and below these bands in non-trending markets.


When the upper and lower lines of a Donchian channel start to flatten, it often portends a trend reversal. You should wait for price movement either above or below the middle line before trading; an increase above is a buy signal while any decrease below constitutes a sell signal.

Donchian Channels can also be useful in detecting breakouts in price series, providing traders with opportunities to buy low and sell high. When price breaks above or below either extreme of the channel it is considered an up or down breakout respectively; similarly a breakdown on either end signifies something similar.

Donchian Channels can also serve to protect against high-risk trades by restricting entries based on the highest high and lowest low over a specified time period, providing an advantage over Bollinger Bands that use an arbitrary look-back mechanism that generates false signals.

Donchian Channel is a simple indicator that can quickly identify trends. Additionally, it can be combined with other indicators to enhance entry signals, yet be used alone or combined with filters in order to enhance profitability and avoid overtrading. Finally, be mindful when applying filters as these could cause overtrading and increased risk. Finally, become acquainted with all of Donchian channel’s time frames available so as to choose one best suited to your trading style – 20 days is usually considered ideal; however it would be prudent to try longer time frames in order to avoid overtrading and increase profitability and reduce overtrading and risk.

Check Also

Trend Intensity Index (TII) – Measuring Trend Strength in Unpredictable Markets

TII is an oscillator used to gauge trend strength. Its values range from 0-100; any …