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Parabolic SAR: How to Use PSAR in Trading

Adam Lienhard
Parabolic SAR: How to Use PSAR in Trading

The Parabolic SAR (PSAR) is a technical indicator used in market analysis, developed by J. Wells Wilder. The Parabolic SAR offers traders a straightforward yet dynamic method to recognize potential trend reversals and determine optimal entry and exit points.

What is PSAR?

The term “SAR” stands for “stop and reverse” and is used to identify potential reversals in the market price direction of traded goods such as securities or currency exchanges.

The PSAR indicator appears on a chart as a series of dots, either above or below an asset’s price, depending on the direction the price is moving. A dot is placed below the price when it is trending upwards, and above the price when it is trending downwards.

The indicator uses a trailing stop and reverse method to identify suitable exit and entry points. It’s important to note that a reversal signal in the SAR does not necessarily mean a reversal in the price. A PSAR reversal only means that the price and indicator have crossed.

How to calculate the Parabolic SAR?

The formula for the Parabolic SAR Indicator is slightly different for a rising PSAR and a falling PSAR:

For a rising PSAR:

RPSAR = Prior PSAR + [Prior AF(Prior EP-Prior PSAR)]

For a falling PSAR:

FPSAR = Prior PSAR – [Prior AF(Prior PSAR-Prior EP)]


  • AF = Acceleration Factor, it starts at 0.02 and increases by 0.02, up to a maximum of 0.2, each time the extreme point makes a new low (falling SAR) or high (rising SAR),
  • EP = Extreme Point, the lowest low in the current downtrend (falling SAR) or the highest high in the current uptrend (rising SAR).

How to use PSAR for trading

The Parabolic SAR (PSAR) is a trend-following indicator and can be used to determine entry and exit points in the market. Here’s how you can use it for trading:

  1. Identify the trend. The PSAR can help highlight the current price direction or trend. A dot is placed below the price when it is trending upwards, and above the price when it is trending downwards.
  2. Entry signals. The basic use of the Parabolic SAR is to buy when the dots move below the price bars signaling an uptrend and sell or short-sell when the dots move above the price bars signaling a downtrend.
  3. Exit signals. The PSAR also provides potential exit signals. When the price falls below the rising dots, the dots flip on top of the price bars. When the price rallies through falling dots, the dots flip below the price.

Remember, this will result in constant trade signals, as the trader will always have a position. That can be good if the price is making big swings back and forth—producing a profit on each trade—but when the price is only making small moves within a limited range, these constant trade signals can produce many losing trades in a row.

Pros and cons of PSAR

+ Entry and exit points. PSAR provides potential entry and exit points for traders. When the dots switch sides, it suggests a potential reversal in the price movement, prompting traders to enter or exit positions.– Lagging indicator. Like many technical indicators, PSAR is a lagging indicator, meaning it relies on past price data to generate signals. This lag can sometimes result in missed opportunities or late entries.
+ Simple to use. PSAR is a straightforward indicator to understand and use, making it accessible for both novice and experienced traders.– Not standalone. PSAR is most effective when used in conjunction with other technical indicators or analysis methods. Relying solely on PSAR may lead to missed opportunities or incorrect signals.
+ Adaptability. PSAR can be used across different timeframes, making it adaptable to various trading strategies and styles.– Sensitivity to settings. The sensitivity of PSAR can be adjusted using its parameters, such as the acceleration factor. However, finding the optimal settings for different market conditions can be challenging and may require trial and error.
+ Risk management. PSAR can assist traders in setting stop-loss orders and managing risk by providing clear points where the trend may reverse.– Whipsaws. In volatile or choppy markets, PSAR can generate false signals, resulting in whipsaws where traders may enter or exit positions prematurely.

Conclusion: Parabolic SAR

PSAR can be a valuable tool for traders in identifying trends and potential reversal points. However, it also has limitations and drawbacks that traders should be aware of and mitigate through careful analysis and risk management. Note that while the PSAR can be a useful tool for traders, it should not be used in isolation. Always consider other factors and indicators when making trading decisions.

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