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Patterns To Watch

Continuing Patterns: Types and How to Trade Them

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 5/16/2024 10 min read

Continuation patterns are foundational elements in technical analysis, offering traders insights into potential market movements following a pause in the prevailing trend. These patterns help predict the continuation of a trend after a brief consolidation, making them critical tools in a trader’s toolkit. Understanding these patterns provides traders with the ability to make more informed decisions about when to enter or exit trades, enhancing the likelihood of profitable outcomes.

You should read this article because it will give you the tools — and practical strategies — to identify and trade continuation patterns.

I’ll answer the following questions:

  • What is a continuation pattern?
  • How do continuation patterns work?
  • What types of continuation patterns are most common?
  • How can you identify and trade triangles?
  • What are the characteristics of flags and pennants in trading?
  • How should you trade a rectangle continuation pattern?
  • What are the best practices for setting price targets with continuation patterns?
  • What warning signs indicate a weak continuation pattern?

Let’s get to the content!

What Is a Continuation Pattern?

In the context of financial markets, a continuation pattern occurs when the price of an asset takes a brief pause or consolidates before continuing in the direction of its prior trend. These patterns indicate that, despite short-term fluctuations, the underlying trend is likely to resume.

  • Market Psychology: Continuation patterns reflect periods where the prevailing market sentiment pauses before resuming.
  • Market Dynamics: These patterns are shaped by the collective actions of traders responding to various price levels, revealing ongoing momentum and potential future price movements.

How Do Continuation Patterns Work?

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Continuation patterns are identifiable sequences on a chart that signal the likelihood of a trend persisting post-consolidation. Traders rely on these patterns to gauge future movements and align their strategies accordingly.

Steps to identify and confirm continuation patterns:

  1. Identify the prevailing trend before the pattern forms.
  2. Recognize the consolidation shape—triangle, flag, or pennant—and monitor for stability.
  3. Confirm the pattern with a breakout in the direction of the existing trend.
  4. These patterns are valuable as they provide a visual representation of market sentiment and potential price action continuation.

Candlestick formations offer a more granular view of market sentiment and potential price movements. Candlesticks, with their unique visual cues, can signal reversals or continuation of trends, providing traders with actionable insights. Particularly, patterns like the Doji or Hammer can indicate significant market shifts. Understanding these nuances is crucial for refining entry and exit strategies, enhancing the predictive power of traditional chart patterns.

For a deeper dive into this topic and to get a handy reference guide, check out my Candlestick Cheat Sheet.

Types of Continuation Patterns

Continuation patterns are like the silent rhythms that guide the flow of market prices. These patterns, observable on candlestick charts, offer a visual narrative of the temporary pauses and consolidations in market trends before they resume their prior direction. The most common shapes include triangles, flags, pennants, and rectangles, each having unique characteristics that signal continuity in price movement. This coherence in the market’s progression provides a structured series of signals that traders can act upon.

In my teaching experience, I’ve found that imparting an understanding of these patterns helps traders recognize the regularity and consistency of market behaviors, turning seemingly random movements into actionable insights.

You should also look for the kind of trend confirmation you can get from the ADX and DMI indicators. They can help distinguish between trending and range-bound markets, allowing traders to adjust their strategies accordingly.

To incorporate the ADX and DMI into your trading toolkit, check out this comprehensive resource on Understanding ADX and DMI.


Triangle patterns are characterized by converging trendlines and decreasing volume, which signal a consolidation phase:

  • Ascending Triangle: Higher lows and a flat upper trendline suggest bullish continuation.
  • Descending Triangle: Lower highs and a flat lower trendline indicate bearish continuation.
  • Symmetrical Triangle: Converging trendlines with no clear slope hint at continuation once a breakout occurs.

Trading strategies for triangles involve entering on a breakout above resistance or below support, with volume confirmation as a key indicator of pattern reliability.


Flags are short-term continuation patterns that resemble a rectangle sloping against the prevailing trend direction. They are typically seen after a sharp movement in price and suggest a consolidation before a continuation.

Identification Tips: Look for volume when confirming flags — it should diminish during the formation and increase on breakout.


Similar to flags, pennants are small, symmetrical triangles that form right after a significant movement in price. They indicate market consolidation and are typically resolved with a continuation of the trend.

Identification Tips: Look for a converging price range following a strong price movement and expect a breakout to signal trend continuation.


Rectangles form when the price moves between parallel support and resistance levels, indicating balanced supply and demand.

  • Trading Strategy: Trade the breakout from the rectangle boundaries, which usually continues in the direction of the previous trend.

How to Trade Continuation Patterns

Trading continuation patterns effectively involves recognizing the arrangement and order of price actions that signify the likelihood of a trend’s continuation. This process not only requires an understanding of the shape and development of patterns but also an appreciation of the underlying market dynamics that drive these formations. For instance, the breakout from a flag or pennant pattern, followed within a well-defined channel, can signal the perfect entry point for a trade.

The integration of these patterns into trading strategies, supported by robust links and resources for real-time data and historical analysis, ensures a comprehensive approach to market engagement. My guidance has consistently emphasized the importance of using a systematic methodology to interpret these patterns, thereby enhancing the predictability and profitability of trading ventures.

Setting an Entry Target

Determining the optimal entry point is crucial after identifying a continuation pattern:

  • Measure the minimum price move expected post-breakout, typically by calculating the height of the pattern.
  • Consider breakout confirmation from candlestick patterns or volume indicators as a signal to enter.

Setting a Price Target

Price targets based on continuation patterns can maximize profits by providing a measurable objective:

  • Calculate the target by adding the pattern’s height to the breakout point for bullish setups or subtracting it for bearish setups.

Setting an Exit Target

Proper exit strategies ensure that gains are captured while minimizing potential losses:

  • Adjust exit targets based on new price action information or if the market sentiment shifts, indicating a weakening trend.

Warning Signs of a Weak Pattern

Identifying a weak continuation pattern involves an analysis of the pattern’s coherence and the market conditions surrounding it. Variations from expected behaviors, such as a lack of volume confirmation or a pattern that doesn’t align with the established trend, can undermine the reliability of the signal.

Traders should be wary of patterns that show inconsistent or fragmented formations, which often indicate a lack of buyer or seller commitment. The interconnection between market signals and actual trading activity forms the basis of reliable pattern recognition. In my courses, I stress the importance of this interplay and teach traders how to scrutinize these patterns not just for their textbook appearance but for their practical implications in live trading scenarios.

Look for these signs:

  • Low Volume: Lack of volume during or after the pattern formation may indicate a lack of commitment to the prevailing trend.
  • Erratic Price Movements: Price action that deviates significantly from the expected pattern suggests underlying market instability.

You can always use more tools in your toolkit — like convergence trading. Convergence trading is an advanced strategy that leverages the temporary mispricing between correlated assets. This approach requires a solid understanding of market mechanics and a disciplined approach to risk management. By exploiting these price inefficiencies, traders can secure returns as prices revert to their mean, making it a compelling strategy for those with the patience to wait for the right opportunity.

Explore how to execute this strategy effectively by reading about Convergence Trading.

Key Takeaways

  • Continuation patterns are powerful tools that signal the likelihood of a trend persisting after a consolidation period.
  • Effective identification and strategic trading of continuation patterns can significantly enhance trading outcomes.
  • Awareness of pattern strength and market context is essential to utilize these patterns effectively.

Trading isn’t rocket science. It’s a skill you build and work on like any other. Trading has changed my life, and I think this way of life should be open to more people…

I’ve built my Trading Challenge to pass on the things I had to learn for myself. It’s the kind of community that I wish I had when I was starting out.

We don’t accept everyone. If you’re up for the challenge — I want to hear from you.

Apply to the Trading Challenge here.

Trading is a battlefield. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be.

Are continuation patterns part of your trading toolkit? Write “I’ll keep it simple Tim!” in the comments if you picked up on my trading philosophy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Continuation Patterns the Same for Forex and Stock Trading?

While the basic principles of continuation patterns apply across markets, the specifics of how they manifest can vary between forex and stocks due to differences in market liquidity and trading behavior.

What Is the Most Reliable Continuation Pattern?

Symmetrical triangles and flags are often cited as among the most reliable continuation patterns due to their clear formation and strong predictive value.

What Are Some Common Errors When Identifying Patterns?

Common mistakes include misidentifying the pattern due to similar appearances or ignoring volume, which can validate or negate the pattern’s predictive power. Traders can avoid these errors through thorough analysis and continuous education in chart pattern recognition.

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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”