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Gap trading strategies using TradeStation

Last Updated on 11 September, 2023 by Samuelsson

In the world of financial markets, traders are always on the lookout for strategies that can provide an edge and help them achieve consistent profits. One such strategy is gap trading, which takes advantage of price gaps that occur in the market. In this article, we will explore gap trading strategies and how you can use the powerful trading platform TradeStation to implement these strategies effectively.

What is gap trading?

Gap trading refers to a trading strategy that aims to profit from the price gaps that occur when a security opens significantly higher or lower than its previous closing price. These gaps can be caused by various factors, such as overnight news events, market sentiment changes, or even technical factors.

Traders who employ gap trading strategies capitalize on the belief that such gaps will be filled, meaning that the price will eventually move back towards the previous closing level. By identifying and trading these gaps, traders aim to profit from the price movement that occurs during this adjustment process.

Types of gaps

There are several types of gaps that traders should be aware of when implementing gap trading strategies:

Common gaps

Common gaps are the most frequent type of gaps and often occur within the boundaries of a well-established price pattern. These gaps typically do not signify any significant change in the overall market trend and are often filled relatively quickly.

Breakaway gaps

Breakaway gaps occur at the beginning of a new trend and often signal the start of a significant price movement. These gaps can be seen as a strong indication of increased buying or selling pressure, and traders aim to take advantage of the continuation of the trend that follows.

Runaway gaps

Also known as measuring gaps or continuation gaps, runaway gaps occur within an ongoing trend and indicate a strong momentum in the current direction. Traders who spot runaway gaps may use them as confirmation signals to enter or add to their existing positions.

Exhaustion gaps

Exhaustion gaps are typically observed towards the end of a trend and often indicate the final push of buying or selling activity before a reversal occurs. Traders who identify exhaustion gaps may consider taking contrarian positions, anticipating a potential trend reversal.

Benefits of gap trading

Gap trading strategies offer several potential benefits for traders:

  • Increased profit potential: Gap trading can provide opportunities for substantial profits within a relatively short period. By correctly identifying and trading gaps, traders can capture significant price movements.
  • Defined entry and exit points: Gap trading strategies often come with clearly defined entry and exit points, allowing traders to establish a systematic approach to their trades.
  • Reduced time commitment: Gap trading focuses on specific timeframes, such as market open, allowing traders to concentrate their efforts during these periods and potentially reduce the time required for active trading.

Understanding TradeStation

Before diving into gap trading strategies, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of TradeStation, a leading trading platform that provides powerful tools and features for traders. TradeStation offers a range of functionality that can greatly assist in implementing gap trading strategies effectively.

Overview of TradeStation

TradeStation is a comprehensive trading platform that caters to the needs of both novice and experienced traders. The platform provides access to various financial markets, including stocks, options, futures, and forex. TradeStation offers a user-friendly interface, advanced charting capabilities, and real-time market data to aid traders in their decision-making process.

Features and tools for gap trading

When it comes to gap trading, TradeStation offers a range of features and tools that can enhance your trading experience:

  • Real-time gap scanners: TradeStation provides built-in gap scanning capabilities that allow you to identify potential gaps quickly. These scanners can be customized based on your specific criteria and can help you filter and prioritize trading opportunities.
  • Advanced charting: TradeStation’s advanced charting features enable traders to visualize price gaps and analyze historical price patterns. The platform offers a wide range of technical indicators and drawing tools to support in-depth technical analysis.
  • Order execution: TradeStation provides fast and reliable order execution, allowing traders to execute trades efficiently and take advantage of gap trading opportunities as they arise.
  • Backtesting and optimization: TradeStation’s backtesting functionality enables you to test your gap trading strategies using historical data. You can analyze the performance of your strategy over time, identify areas for improvement, and optimize your approach accordingly.

Developing a gap trading strategy

To develop an effective gap trading strategy, it’s important to consider the following elements:

Identifying potential gaps

The first step in developing a gap trading strategy is to identify potential gaps that meet your trading criteria. Utilizing TradeStation’s real-time gap scanners and setting specific parameters can help you identify gaps based on factors such as price range, volume, and market conditions.

Entry and exit points

Once you’ve identified a potential gap, you need to determine the optimal entry and exit points for your trades. This involves analyzing the price action, considering support and resistance levels, and incorporating additional technical indicators to confirm your decision.

Risk management

Risk management is a crucial aspect of any trading strategy, including gap trading. Define your risk tolerance, set stop-loss orders to limit potential losses, and consider using trailing stops to protect profits as the price moves in your favor. TradeStation provides tools to help you manage risk effectively.

Backtesting and optimizing your strategy

Before implementing your gap trading strategy in live markets, it’s essential to backtest and optimize it using historical data. Backtesting allows you to assess the performance of your strategy under different market conditions and identify potential flaws or areas for improvement. TradeStation’s backtesting functionality simplifies this process by providing access to extensive historical market data and allowing you to test your strategy’s performance over time.

Optimization involves fine-tuning your strategy by adjusting parameters and rules based on the backtesting results. This iterative process helps you improve the profitability and reliability of your gap trading strategy.

Implementing your gap trading strategy

Once you’ve developed and optimized your gap trading strategy, it’s time to put it into action. TradeStation’s platform provides the necessary tools and features to monitor the market for potential gap opportunities. Utilize the real-time gap scanners, set up alerts, and track relevant securities to ensure you don’t miss out on potential trading setups.

When executing trades, TradeStation offers fast and reliable order execution, allowing you to enter and exit positions swiftly. Monitor the price action, adhere to your predetermined entry and exit points, and follow your risk management rules to maintain consistency in your trading approach.

Common challenges and considerations

While gap trading can be a profitable strategy, it’s important to be aware of common challenges and considerations:

Market volatility

Gap trading involves trading during volatile market periods, which can result in rapid price movements. Traders must be prepared for increased volatility and have strategies in place to manage and mitigate risks associated with market volatility.

News and events

News events and economic releases can significantly impact market conditions and cause gaps. Stay informed about upcoming news events and be prepared for potential market reactions. Consider adjusting your trading approach during such periods or temporarily stepping aside to avoid excessive risk.

Risk and reward

Gap trading, like any trading strategy, involves balancing risk and reward. Establish realistic profit targets and risk-reward ratios based on your strategy’s performance and risk tolerance. Maintain discipline and avoid chasing excessively large gaps that may carry higher risks.


Gap trading strategies using TradeStation can provide traders with opportunities to profit from price gaps in the market. By understanding the different types of gaps, utilizing TradeStation’s features and tools, and developing a systematic approach to gap trading, you can enhance your chances of success. Remember to backtest and optimize your strategy, implement sound risk management practices, and stay informed about market conditions to adapt your approach as needed.


  1. Can I use TradeStation for other trading strategies besides gap trading? Absolutely! TradeStation offers a wide range of features and tools that cater to various trading strategies across different financial markets.
  2. How much does TradeStation cost? TradeStation offers different pricing plans based on your trading needs. You can visit their website or contact their customer support for detailed pricing information.
  3. Is gap trading suitable for beginners? Gap trading can be suitable for traders of all experience levels. However, beginners should ensure they have a solid understanding of market dynamics, risk management, and technical analysis before implementing gap trading strategies.
  4. Can I automate my gap trading strategy with TradeStation? Yes, TradeStation provides automation capabilities through their EasyLanguage programming language. Traders can code and automate their gap trading strategies using TradeStation’s platform.
  5. Are there any risks associated with gap trading? Like any trading strategy, gap trading carries risks. Market volatility, unexpected news events, and gaps failing to fill are some of the risks associated with this strategy. It’s crucial to implement proper risk management techniques and continuously monitor market conditions to minimize potential risks.
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