Bollinger Band Squeeze Strategy The Bollinger Band Squeeze is a straightforward strategy that is relatively simple to implement. First, look for securities with narrowing Bollinger Bands and low BandWidth levels. Ideally, BandWidth should be near the low end of its six-month range. Second, wait for a band break to signal the start of a new move. An upside bank break is bullish, while a downside band break is bearish. Note that narrowing bands do not provide any directional clues. They simply infer that volatility is contracting and chartists should be prepared for a volatility expansion, which means a directional move. BandWidth Signal Recap: Bollinger Bands narrow on the price chart. The BandWidth is near the low end of its six-month range. Price breaks above the upper band or below the lower band. Trading Signals Even though the Bollinger Band Squeeze is straight forward, chartists should at least combine this strategy with basic chart analysis to confirm signals. For example, a break above resistance can be used to confirm a break above the upper band. Similarly, a break below support can be used to confirm a break below the lower band. Unconfirmed band breaks are subject to failure. The chart below shows Starbucks (SBUX) with two signals within a two-month period, which is relatively rare. After a surge in March, the stock consolidated with an extended trading range. SBUX broke the lower band twice, but did not break support from the mid-March low. Basic chart analysis reveals a falling wedge type pattern. Notice that this pattern formed after a surge in early March, which makes it a bullish continuation pattern. SBUX subsequently broke above the upper band and then broke resistance for confirmation. After the surge above 40, the stock again moved into a consolidation phase as the bands narrowed and BandWidth fell back to the low end of its range. Another setup was in the making as the surge and flat consolidation formed a bull flag in July. Despite this bullish pattern, SBUX never broke the upper band or resistance. Instead, SBUX broke the lower band and support, which led to a sharp decline. Tweaking Because the Bollinger Band Squeeze does not provide any directional clues, chartists must use other aspects of technical analysis to anticipate or confirm a directional break. In addition to basic chart analysis, chartists can also apply complimentary indicators to look for signs of buying or selling pressure within the consolidation. Momentum oscillators and moving averages are of little value during a consolidation because these indicators simply flatten along with price action. Instead, chartists should consider using volume-based indicators, such as the Accumulation Distribution Line, Chaikin Flow, the Flow Index (MFI) or On Balance Volume (OBV). Signs of accumulation increase the chances of an upside breakout, while signs of distribution increase the chances of a downside break. The chart above shows Lowes Companies (LOW) with the Bollinger Band Squeeze occurring in April 2011. The bands moved to their narrowest range in months as volatility contracted. The indicator window shows Chaikin Flow weakening in March and turning negative in April. Notice that CMF reached its lowest level since January and continued lower into early May. Negative readings in Chaikin Flow reflect distribution or selling pressure that can be used to anticipate or confirm a support break in the stock. The example above shows Intuit (INTU) with a Bollinger Band Squeeze in September and breakout in early October. During the squeeze, notice how On Balance Volume (OBV) continued to move higher, which showed accumulation during the September trading range. Signs of buying pressure or accumulation increased the chances of an upside breakout. Before breaking out, the stock opened below the lower band and then closed back above the band. Notice that a piercing pattern formed, which is a bullish candlestick reversal pattern. This pattern reinforced support and follow through foreshadowed the upside breakout. Conclusion The Bollinger Band Squeeze is a trading strategy designed to find consolidations with decreasing volatility. In its purest form, this strategy is neutral and the ensuing break can be up or down. Chartists, therefore, must employ other aspects of technical analysis to formulate a trading bias to act before the break or confirm the break. Acting before the break will improve the risk-reward ratio. Keep in mind that this article is designed as a starting point for trading system development. Use these ideas to augment your trading style, risk-reward preferences and personal judgments. Click here for a chart of the S&P 500 ETF with Bollinger Bands and the BandWidth indicator.