Yes, most people think “shampoo” when they hear “Head and Shoulders,” but traders aren’t most people.

Head-and-shoulders trading forecasts a potential reversal from bullish-to-bearish trading, and is thought by many technical traders to be a particularly reliable indicator. Let’s take a look at how to spot this pattern.

Spotting the Head-and-Shoulders Pattern

There are three main phases to a head-and-shoulders patterns. First, you’ll see a stock have bullish trading activity, hit a peak and pull back to form a trough at a support area. Next, the price rebounds off the support level and forms a higher peak, but pulls back again to the support area. Then the price rises yet again to a high around the level of the first peak, only to pull back to support one more time.

At that point, if the stock breaks below the support area, it could continue lower.

Let’s take a look at an example using the SPDR S&P 500 Index ETF (SPY)

In the chart above, notice that the first “shoulder,” or peak, was formed after an uptrend in the exchange-traded fund. Thereafter, it pulled back and formed a trough at a support area. Following that, the stock rebound and formed the “head” of the pattern. Again, it pulled back to support level, and rebounded to form another peak. After that, however, it pulled back again and broke below the support area. Consequently, this signaled to technical traders that a bearish move might lay ahead for the SPY, and the ETF sold off.

Final Thoughts

Bullish head-and-shoulders patterns can be a useful tool in your trader toolkit, but keep in mind that this pattern does not always work, so keep expectations in check. Still, if the stock breaks below the support area — the pattern’s neckline, if you will — there is a high probability that the security is about to take a fall.


Jason Bond runs and is a swing trader of small-cap stocks.


Author: Jason Bond

Jason taught himself to trade while working as a full-time gym teacher; his trading profits grew eventually allowed him to free himself of over $250,000 in student loans!

Now a multimillionaire and a highly skilled trader and trading coach, Over 30,000 people credit Jason with teaching them how to trade and find profitable trades. Jason specializes in both swing trades and in selling options using spread trades, which balance the risk of selling options. Jason is Co-Founder of and the Foundation which donates trading profits to charity. So far the foundation donated over $600,000 to charity.

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