How to Identify Elliot Wave Patterns in Crypto Markets

For crypto traders, understanding and applying Elliott Wave Theory can be particularly valuable, given the market's volatility and the potential for significant price swings. 

Here's a guide to help you identify and apply Elliott Wave patterns when trading crypto:

The Basics of Elliott Wave Patterns

At its core, the Elliott Wave Theory posits that financial markets move in predictable cycles or "waves," influenced by the collective psychology of market participants. 

These cycles can be broken down into two main types: impulse waves and corrective waves.

Impulse waves

Impulse waves move in the overall market trend’s direction and consist of five distinct waves.

Wave 1: The initial move up.

Wave 2: A corrective pullback that doesn’t retrace beyond the starting point of Wave 1.

Wave 3: The most powerful and typically the longest wave, surpassing the high of Wave 1.

Wave 4: A corrective move that doesn’t overlap with the price territory of Wave 1.

Wave 5: The final push in the direction of the trend, often accompanied by strong sentiment.

Corrective waves

Corrective waves move against the overall market trend and consist of three waves.

Wave A: An initial move against the trend.

Wave B: A partial retracement of Wave A.

Wave C: A continuation move that typically matches the length of Wave A.

Identifying Wave Patterns in Crypto Markets

The cryptocurrency market is particularly well-suited for Elliott Wave analysis due to its high volatility and strong trending behavior. Here's how traders can apply Elliott Wave patterns to crypto markets, with examples:

In bull markets

Example: Bitcoin's bull run from late 2020 to early 2021.

bitcoin correction 2021

Source: Coindesk

Wave 1: Bitcoin began its upward trend from $10,000 in October 2020.

Wave 2: A correction brought it down to around $9,000 in November 2020.

Wave 3: The most significant rally took Bitcoin to $40,000 by January 2021.

Wave 4: A consolidation phase saw prices dip to $30,000.

Wave 5: The final leg pushed Bitcoin to its then all-time high of $64,000 in April 2021.

In bear markets

Example: Bitcoin's correction post the April 2021 peak.

Wave A: The initial drop from $64,000 to $30,000.

Wave B: A rally back to $52,000.

Wave C: A further decline to around $29,000, completing the corrective phase.

Wave Degrees and Time Frames

Elliott Wave patterns can be identified across different time frames, from hourly charts to long-term weekly charts. This multi-timeframe analysis helps traders align short-term trades with long-term trends.

Example: Ethereum's bull market from early 2020 to mid-2021.

Ethereum bull run 2021

Source: CoinEx

On a weekly chart, the major impulse waves can be seen.

On a daily chart, smaller degree waves within the larger trend are clearly noticeable.

Using Fibonacci Ratios with Elliott Waves

Fibonacci retracement and extension levels are key components of Elliott Wave analysis. Waves often retrace or extend to Fibonacci levels, helping traders set price targets and stop-loss levels.



Example: During Ethereum's rally from $100 to $4,200, corrections often retraced to 38.2%, 50%, or 61.8% Fibonacci levels of the preceding wave.

Practical Tips for Crypto Traders 

  1. Identify the trend

Correctly identifying waves in real-time can be challenging. You should start by practicing on historical charts to recognize patterns before applying them in live markets.

Look for the larger trend in which the smaller wave patterns are occurring. This could be a long-term trend on a daily or weekly chart or a shorter-term trend on an hourly chart.

      2. Spot the wave patterns 

Look for the five-wave motive pattern in the direction of the trend, followed by the three-wave corrective pattern. This could be a long-term trend on a daily or weekly chart or a shorter-term trend on an hourly chart. Remember, the motive waves are numbered, and the corrective waves are lettered.

      3. Count the waves 

Start counting the waves from the beginning of the trend. Wave 2 should never retrace more than 100% of Wave 1, and Wave 3 should not be the shortest of the three impulse waves (1, 3, 5).

      4. Forecast 

Use your wave count to forecast potential turning points in the market. For instance, if you've identified Waves 1 through 4, you can predict that Wave 5 is likely to follow before a corrective phase begins.

      5. Determine entry and exit points

Based on your analysis, determine strategic entry and exit points. Traders often enter during the corrective phase to capitalize on the next motive wave.

*Useful tip: wait for confirmation before acting on wave counts. False starts are common, and premature entries can lead to losses.

      6. Use supporting analysis

Elliott Wave Theory should not be used in isolation. Support your wave analysis with other forms of technical analysis, such as trend lines, Fibonacci retracement levels, and technical indicators. For instance, you can use moving averages, RSI, and MACD, to confirm trends and potential reversals.

Latest Insights and Examples

Recent market trends

As of mid-2023, Bitcoin has shown signs of entering a new impulse wave after a prolonged corrective phase. Identifying the early stages of this wave could present significant opportunities for traders.


Altcoins, like Solana and Cardano, have exhibited clear Elliott Wave patterns during their recent price movements. For instance, Solana’s surge from $1.50 in early 2021 to over $200 by September 2021 followed a classic five-wave impulse pattern.

Regulatory impact

The increasing regulatory scrutiny on cryptocurrencies can lead to sharp corrective waves. Traders should stay informed about regulatory news as it can significantly impact market psychology and wave patterns.

For example, the World Economic Forum is actively engaged in the Digital Assets Regulatory (DAR) initiative, which examines the results of various national approaches to digital asset regulation.

Another example is the US which introduced two bills in 2023: the Financial Innovation and Technology (FIT) for the 21st Century Act and the Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act. These bills aim to define when a cryptocurrency is a security or a commodity, enhance industry oversight, and clarify the roles of various regulatory bodies in managing crypto. However, the terms of both bills aren’t set in stone and they’re still under development.

The Bottom Line

Elliott Wave Theory is a powerful tool for crypto traders, offering a window into the underlying patterns that drive market movements. While it requires practice and skill to master, the insights it provides can lead to more informed and potentially profitable trading decisions. 

As with any trading strategy, it's important to use Elliott Wave analysis in conjunction with other methods and always to manage risk appropriately.