Use Volatility Indicators to Assess Risks When Trading Crypto

Volatility is both a blessing and a curse for crypto traders. However, if you understand and use volatility indicators effectively, you can better assess crypto assets’ risk and potential price movements. 

Read more below to learn why volatility indicators are essential tools in a crypto trader's arsenal.

What Are Volatility Indicators?

Volatility indicators are statistical measures that describe the degree of variation or the rate of price changes for a crypto asset. These indicators provide insights into the level of uncertainty or risk associated with the price changes of cryptocurrencies

They’re particularly useful in a market known for rapid and significant price movements.

Crypto traders use these indicators to measure the range and speed of price movements in the cryptocurrency market. They can also identify potential breakouts or breakdowns, adjust risk management strategies, and predict price changes and market trends. 

Common Volatility Indicators and How to Use Them to Assess Risks

Bollinger Bands

Bollinger Bands consist of three lines plotted on a price chart: a simple moving average (SMA) in the middle, and upper and lower bands that represent standard deviations from the SMA. 

Widening bands indicate increased volatility while narrowing bands suggest decreasing volatility.

Example: When Bitcoin's price breaks above the upper Bollinger Band, it may signal overbought conditions and potential price reversal.

This information allows traders to adjust their risk management strategies accordingly, such as setting tighter stop-loss orders during periods of heightened volatility or widening them during calmer market conditions. Additionally, Bollinger Bands can serve as a tool for identifying potential trend reversals or breakout opportunities when prices breach the bands, signaling shifts in market sentiment and potential trading opportunities. 

Average True Range (ATR)

ATR measures market volatility by analyzing the average range between high and low prices over a specified period. Higher ATR values indicate greater volatility, while lower values suggest relative stability.

Example: Ethereum's ATR reaches 5% during a period of heightened market activity, indicating increased volatility and the potential for larger price swings.

Additionally, the ATR can help you identify periods of heightened volatility, characterized by larger price ranges, and adjust their risk management strategies accordingly. For instance, during periods of increased volatility, traders may choose to widen their stop-loss orders or reduce their position sizes to account for larger potential price swings. Conversely, during periods of decreased volatility, traders may tighten their risk parameters or explore alternative trading strategies that align with lower levels of price fluctuation. 

Volatility Index (VIX) 

Originally designed to gauge volatility in the U.S. stock market, the VIX has garnered attention among traders in the crypto space as a barometer of broader market sentiment and risk appetite. 

Despite cryptocurrencies operating within a distinct ecosystem, they often exhibit correlations with traditional financial markets during periods of heightened uncertainty or risk aversion. Therefore, monitoring the VIX provides crypto traders with valuable insights into the prevailing market sentiment and risk conditions, which can influence price movements across various digital assets. 

A rising VIX during a period of market turbulence suggests heightened risk and the need for caution when trading cryptocurrencies.

CVI volatility index

Standard Deviation 

Standard deviation serves as a critical volatility indicator in assessing risks within the realm of cryptocurrency trading due to its ability to measure the extent of dispersion or variability in a dataset. 

Standard deviation provides a quantitative measure of how much the price of a cryptocurrency deviates from its average price over a specific period. A higher standard deviation indicates greater price variability, implying increased risk for traders. 

By analyzing standard deviation, you can gauge the potential magnitude of price movements and adjust your risk management strategies accordingly, whether it involves setting stop-loss orders, determining position sizes, or implementing hedging techniques. 

Chaikin Money Flow (CMF) 

Chaikin Money Flow (CMF) measures the flow of money in and out of a cryptocurrency over a specific period. In the highly volatile and speculative environment of crypto markets, understanding the direction and strength of money flow is essential for traders to make informed decisions and manage risks effectively. 

CMF combines price and volume data to provide insights into whether a cryptocurrency is experiencing buying or selling pressure. A positive CMF suggests buying pressure, indicating that more money is flowing into the cryptocurrency, potentially signaling bullish market sentiment and higher price volatility. Conversely, a negative CMF suggests selling pressure, indicating that more money is flowing out of the cryptocurrency, potentially signaling bearish market sentiment and increased price volatility. 

If you incorporate CMF into your analysis, you’ll better anticipate potential price movements and adjust your trading strategies accordingly, whether it involves entering or exiting positions, setting stop-loss orders, or managing risk exposure. 

Additionally, CMF can help you identify divergence between price and money flow, which may indicate potential trend reversals or opportunities for profit. 

The Donchian Channel 

The Donchian Channel delineates price ranges and highlights potential volatility zones over a specified period. Specifically, the Donchian Channel comprises an upper band representing the highest price over a set period, a lower band representing the lowest price over the same period, and a middle band that typically signifies the average price.

By analyzing the width of the channel, you can assess the degree of price volatility: a wider channel indicates greater volatility, while a narrower channel suggests decreased volatility. This information is invaluable for traders looking to adjust their risk management strategies, as wider channels may necessitate wider stop-loss orders or smaller position sizes to account for larger potential price swings. 

Additionally, the Donchian Channel can serve as a tool for identifying potential breakout or breakdown points, where prices breach the upper or lower bands, signaling shifts in market sentiment and potential opportunities for profit or risk mitigation. 

Benefits of Using Volatility Indicators in Crypto Trading

Risk management

Volatility indicators help traders assess the level of risk associated with a particular trade. By incorporating volatility analysis into risk management strategies, traders can adjust position sizes and set appropriate stop-loss levels to mitigate potential losses during periods of high volatility.

Example: A trader adjusts their position size and widens stop-loss orders in response to increased volatility, preserving capital and minimizing downside risk.

Identify timing entries and exits

Volatility indicators can assist traders in identifying optimal entry and exit points based on market conditions. During periods of low volatility, traders may look for consolidation patterns and wait for breakout signals to enter trades. Conversely, high volatility may present opportunities for quick profits through scalping or intraday trading strategies.

Example: Using Bollinger Bands, a trader waits for Bitcoin's price to contract within the bands before entering a long position. They then exit the trade when the price reaches the upper band, capturing gains from the price breakout.

Get trend confirmation 

Volatility indicators can complement trend-following strategies by confirming the strength of price trends. A surge in volatility accompanied by a clear directional movement reinforces the validity of a trend, increasing the likelihood of successful trades.

Example: After identifying a bullish trend in Litecoin using trend-following indicators, a trader confirms the trend's strength by observing increasing volatility, supporting their decision to enter a long position.


Volatility indicators are indispensable tools for assessing the risks of crypto trades and making informed trading decisions. If you understand the nuances of volatility and incorporate relevant indicators into their analysis, you can place your crypto trades with greater precision and confidence. 

Whether managing risk, timing entries and exits, or confirming price trends, volatility indicators provide valuable insights that can enhance trading strategies and improve overall performance.

However, it's important to remember that no indicator can predict market movements with absolute certainty. Use these tools as part of a comprehensive strategy, considering both technical and fundamental analysis to make the most informed decisions possible.