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The Williams Alligator Indicator stands out for its unique approach to market analysis. Named after its creator, legendary trader Bill Williams, the Alligator Indicator is a fascinating tool that I have found to be immensely helpful in deciphering market movements.

The indicator uses a quirky allegory of a sleeping and awakening alligator to signal the absence or presence of a trend. This metaphor simplifies the complex nature of market dynamics, making it more approachable for traders of all levels.


Understanding the Concept of the Alligator Indicator

The Alligator is based on the idea that markets trend only a fraction of the time, and the rest of the movements are range-bound or what Williams referred to as "sleeping." The central theme here is to identify when the market is trending and when it is not.

The concept struck a chord with me because it aligns perfectly with the observable phases of market behaviour. Markets often consolidate, and it is during these periods that the alligator 'sleeps.' Conversely, when a trend emerges, the alligator 'awakens,' and this is where the indicator shines—by helping traders recognise these shifts.

The Alligator Indicator is a visual representation of market psychology, embodying the ebbs and flows of supply and demand. It encourages traders to be patient, waiting for the right moment to enter trades, much like an alligator waits for its prey. This patience can often be the difference between a successful trade and a premature one.


How the Alligator Indicator works

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The mechanics of the Williams Alligator Indicator are fascinating and rest on the interplay of three moving averages. 

These averages are smoothed over different time frames and are designed to align and signal market trends based on their convergence, divergence, and the order they follow. Each of these averages represents a specific part of the alligator's anatomy, which I will delve into shortly.

The indicator is plotted directly on the price chart, providing a visual guide that is easy to interpret once understood. When the lines are intertwined, the alligator is considered 'sleeping,' and the market is range-bound. However, when the lines start to separate and align, the alligator 'awakens,' indicating a potential trend.

I was initially sceptical about how well the Alligator Indicator could forecast market trends, but as I incorporated it into my analysis, I was pleasantly surprised. The Indicator does not predict the future but rather provides a framework to understand current market conditions, which, in turn, can lead to more informed trading decisions.


The Components of the Alligator Indicator - Jaw, Teeth, and Lips

The Alligator's Jaw

The Jaw is the slowest and smoothest moving average of the Alligator Indicator, typically depicted in blue on the chart. It consists of a 13-period smoothed moving average, moved into the future by 8 bars. 

The Jaw represents the longer-term trend and is often seen as the baseline from which the other parts of the alligator operate.

When I analyse the Jaw, I'm looking at the underlying trend strength and direction over a longer period. It's the foundation upon which the shorter-term averages, the Teeth and Lips, interact, and it provides a broader context for market analysis.

The Alligator's Teeth

The Teeth, coloured in red, are a medium-term moving average. This line is an 8-period smoothed moving average, shifted 5 bars forward. The Teeth are crucial for me as they bridge the gap between the long-term trend indicated by the Jaw and the short-term trend suggested by the Lips.

This component helps me gauge the immediate market momentum and can act as a signal for potential entry or exit points when it crosses over the other moving averages. It's a balance between the immediacy of the Lips and the overarching trend of the Jaw.

The Alligator's Lips

The Lips, shown in green, are the fastest-moving average of the trio. It's a 5-period smoothed moving average, pushed 3 bars into the future. The Lips provide the most sensitivity to price changes and are a key indicator for short-term trends and potential market reversals.

By observing the Lips, I can pinpoint the exact moments when the market momentum is changing. This is where the alligator 'awakens' or 'falls asleep,' and these moments are critical for making trading decisions. The Lips can often act as the trigger line for entering or exiting trades.


Interpreting Signals From the Alligator Indicator

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The Alligator Indicator's signals can be interpreted through the alignment and separation of its components—the Jaw, Teeth, and Lips. When these three moving averages are entwined, it suggests that the market is 'sleeping,' and no clear trend is present. This is usually a time for me to be cautious and refrain from making any major trading moves.

As the moving averages begin to separate and align in a particular order, the alligator is considered to be 'awakening.' 

For instance, if the Lips (green line) cross above the Teeth (red line) and Jaw (blue line) in an upward fashion, it signals a potential uptrend. Conversely, if the Lips cross below the Teeth and Jaw, a downtrend may be on the horizon.

The Alligator Indicator also provides signals based on the divergence or convergence of the moving averages. Increasing divergence often indicates the strengthening of a trend, while convergence can signal a potential reversal or weakening trend. It is these nuances that help me make nuanced trading decisions based on the alligator's state.


Using the Alligator Indicator in Different Market Conditions

The versatility of the Williams Alligator Indicator is showcased in its adaptability to various market conditions. During trending markets, the alligator thrives, providing clear signals for entry and exit points. 

It's during these conditions that I find the Alligator Indicator to be particularly valuable, as it helps to confirm the presence of a trend and its direction.

In range-bound markets, where the alligator is said to be 'sleeping,' the indicator can still be of use. During these times, it serves as a cautionary tool, warning me to stay on the sidelines or to be very selective with trades. 

The alligator's 'sleep' indicates that the market is lacking direction, and thus, it may not be the best time to trade.

However, it's essential to note that the alligator can also signal the end of a 'sleeping' phase. As the moving averages start to diverge after a period of entanglement, it may suggest the beginning of a new trend. This is where I pay close attention to the alligator 'awakening,' as it could present a fresh trading opportunity.


Strategies for Trading With the Alligator Indicator

There are several strategies I employ when trading with the Williams Alligator Indicator, each tailored to capitalise on different market scenarios. One of my go-to strategies is trading the trend on a breakout. This involves waiting for the alligator's lines to separate significantly, indicating that a strong trend is in place, and then entering a trade in the direction of the trend.

Another strategy involves trading the alligator's 'awakening.' Here, I look for the moment when the moving averages begin to diverge after a period of consolidation. It's a cue for me to consider a position, as the market may be starting to trend.

I also use the alligator in conjunction with other indicators and technical analysis methods, such as fractals, to confirm signals and increase the robustness of my trading decisions. It's important to remember that no indicator should be used in isolation, and the alligator is no exception.


Tips for Maximising the Effectiveness of the Alligator Indicator

To maximise the effectiveness of the Williams Alligator Indicator, I have developed a set of best practices. 

First and foremost, I always consider the broader market context. The alligator is a powerful tool, but it should be used in conjunction with a thorough understanding of market conditions, fundamental analysis, and other technical indicators.

Patience is another key factor. Just like the metaphorical alligator, successful traders must wait for the right opportunity before striking. I avoid trading when the alligator's lines are intertwined, as it suggests a lack of trend, and instead wait for clear signals of an awakening or sleeping alligator.

Lastly, I always manage my risk. No matter how confident I am in the signals provided by the alligator, I never risk more than a small percentage of my trading capital on any single trade. This ensures that even if the market moves against me, my trading career can continue unimpeded.

Another informative article you must read: 7 Risk Management Strategies for CFD Shares


Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Alligator Indicator

While the Alligator Indicator is a remarkable tool, it's not immune to misuse. 


  1. One common mistake I've seen is traders relying too heavily on the indicator without confirmation from other sources. The alligator can provide false signals, so it's important to look for confirmation from additional indicators or patterns.
  2. Another mistake is ignoring the importance of setting appropriate time frames. The Alligator Indicator can be applied to various time frames, but it's crucial to align it with your trading strategy. For instance, using it on too short a time frame may result in too much market noise, while too long a time frame might lag too much for certain strategies.
  3. Finally, a lack of patience can lead to premature entries or exits. It's tempting to jump into a trade when the alligator's lines start to converge or diverge, but without proper confirmation, these moves can be risky. Waiting for clear signals and a fully 'awakened' alligator can provide more reliable entries.


Wrapping Up

The Williams Alligator Indicator has become an integral part of my trading arsenal. It's a tool that provides a unique perspective on market trends, blending simplicity with depth. 

The alligator metaphor has not only made it easier for me to understand market movements but has also helped to instil discipline in my trading approach.

The alligator's Jaw, Teeth, and Lips offer a structured way to interpret market conditions, allowing for strategic entry and exit points. When used correctly, in tandem with other forms of analysis, the alligator can be a powerful ally in navigating the often unpredictable waters of the financial markets.

My final thoughts on the Williams Alligator Indicator are that while no tool is perfect, the alligator provides a robust framework for understanding market trends. It's a testament to Bill Williams' insight into market behaviour, and I encourage all traders to explore its potential.

With patience, practice, and proper risk management, the alligator can help traders of all levels enhance their trading decisions.

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When considering “CFDs” for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant risk and could result in capital loss. Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be considered investment advice.

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