5 Key Considerations for Improving Your Options Trading

If you’re an options trader, you know that making the right decisions is key to success.

The good news is, there are five easy questions you can use to instantly improve your options trading.

Let’s take a look at what these questions are and how they can help you make better decisions when trading options.

Does This Trade Fit My System/Strategy?

When evaluating an options position, it is important to ask yourself whether or not it meets all of the criteria in your trading system. First and foremost, does this position fit into your overall trading plan? Are there any risks associated with this position that would compromise your risk management levels? Is there enough liquidity in the market to make sure that you can exit quickly if necessary?

All of these questions should be asked before entering any type of trade.

We recently published an article about using trendlines with trading options. You may be able to design a trading strategy around this simple technical tool. It not only has objective entry points but also highlights areas for trade management or simply closing the position.

It is also important to consider other factors such as volatility and time decay when determining if a position fits within your system. Volatility measures how much price movement an asset experiences over time while time decay refers to how quickly an option’s value declines over time. Understanding both of these concepts is essential for making informed decisions about entering and exiting positions.

Additionally, it is important to evaluate the potential rewards versus risks when considering a trade. While you might be tempted by high returns, it’s important to remember that higher returns often come with higher risks as well. Before entering a position, make sure that the reward outweighs the risks associated with it so that you can maximize potential profits while minimizing losses from bad trades.

At its core, trading is all about making sure that each trade remains compliant with the overall guidelines of your system while also helping minimize potential losses in your portfolio. By asking yourself whether or not each option position meets these criteria before executing any trades, traders can better protect their portfolios from unnecessary losses and increase their chances of success in the markets over time.

Which Options Expiration Cycle Matches Your Outlook?

When selecting an options expiration cycle, it’s important to consider your overall outlook for the stock and how much time you feel you will need to become profitable. Shorter expirations can be beneficial as they allow traders to “time” their trades without taking on undue risk, whereas longer expirations offer more flexibility but also require more patience and capital.

For example, if you’re looking to make a quick move off of news or other catalysts, then shorter expirations may be preferable as they will expire before any major trends develop. However, if you are expecting a sustained trend in either direction then longer expirations may suit your needs better. That being said, there is no one answer when it comes to choosing an expiration cycle; it all depends on your personal preferences and outlook for the stock in question.

Another factor to consider is the amount of capital you have available for trading (i.e., how much margin you can afford). Longer-term options generally require more capital than shorter-term ones due to the higher premiums associated with them. This means that traders working with limited capital may have no choice but to use shorter-term options regardless of their overall outlook for the stock or market conditions at large.

At Netpicks, we teach our traders to look at expirations dates between 20-60 days from when the trade is put on.  This allows us to be patient on trades without time decay eating us up too quickly.

Understanding which options expiration cycle matches your outlook is key when it comes to maximizing profits and minimizing risks in options trading. By asking yourself which expiration cycle best fits your outlook, traders can ensure that they are always using expirations that match their goals and preferences – whether short-term or long-term – thus increasing their chances of success in any given trade.

With so many different expiration cycles available, there is something for every trader regardless of their strategy and objectives.

Which Options Strategy Will Be Suitable?

Everyone knows that when it comes to trading, it’s important to maximize profit while minimizing risk. But when it comes to options trading, which strategy will best help you achieve this goal?

Let’s look at some of the strategies available and how each one can help you reach your goals.

Vertical Spreads

Vertical spreads are one of the most popular strategies for traders looking to maximize their profits and minimize their risks. With this strategy, you buy one option and sell another option at a higher strike price or sell an option at a lower strike price and buy an option at a higher strike price.

This type of spread allows you to capitalize on volatility while still limiting your risk by capping both your upside and downside potential.

We prefer using vertical spreads over buying calls and puts as vertical spreads can give us multiple ways to make money with the same trade.  They are less capital intensive as the way we set them up, they are up to 50% cheaper than the calls and puts.  Credit spreads?  Those offer five ways to make money all while have defined risk and letting time decay work in your favor.  These are a great way for income producing trades.


Another option is the straddle strategy which involves buying both a call and put option with the same strike price at the same time. This is a great way to capitalize on high implied volatilities without having to predict direction. It also provides a limited risk because if the stock moves too far in either direction, you can limit your losses by selling your position early.

Iron Condors

Finally, iron condors are another great way to maximize profits while minimizing risk. This strategy involves selling both a call spread and put spread simultaneously with different strike prices to make money off of changes in implied volatility or market direction.

It also has a limited risk because if the stock moves too far in either direction, you can simply close out your position early to limit any losses incurred.

When it comes to maximizing profits while minimizing risk, there are several options strategies available that may fit the bill depending on market conditions and personal preferences.

Vertical spreads provide multiple ways of making money while still keeping the risks defined; straddles allow traders to take advantage of high volatility without having to predict direction; and iron condors are a great way for traders to make money off of changes in implied volatility or market direction without taking on too much risk.

No matter which strategy works best for you, understanding which one will suit each specific trade is key for any successful trader! I will add that vertical spreads is our preferred way of trading options.

Is There Enough Liquidity?

If you’re a trader, then you know that liquidity levels are an important factor to consider before entering a trade. Liquidity refers to the number of contracts available at any given time on an option market or ETF. Having enough liquidity is key to ensuring that you can exit your position when needed, at an acceptable price.

Why is Liquidity Important?

Liquidity is important because it ensures that traders have enough contracts available to meet their needs. Without adequate liquidity, traders may find themselves unable to exit their positions when they need to to avoid losses or capture profits. This can cause them to miss out on potential gains or incur unexpected losses if the markets become volatile.

How Can I Check Liquidity Levels?

Before entering into any trades, traders should always check the liquidity levels of the options they are considering buying or selling. This can be done by checking the open interest for each contract.

Open interest refers to the total number of contracts outstanding for a particular security or instrument at any given time.

The higher the open interest, the more liquid an option is likely to be—which means that it will be easier for traders to enter and exit their positions without having too much slippage (the difference between what they expect their entry/exit prices will be and what they get).  At Netpicks, we like to see at least 30 times the open interest compared to contracts.

For example, if we want to trade 1 contract, we need to see at least 30 open interest levels.  The more open interest  and volume, the tighter the bid-ask spread is.  In trading, a few cents here and there can add up.  Remember, if the bid ask spread is .05, that is $5.00 for the entire contract.

Another way to check liquidity levels is by looking at the bid-ask spread for each contract—this tells you how wide (or narrow) the gap between buyers and sellers is likely to be at any given time, which also affects how easy it will be for traders to enter and exit positions as necessary.

Finally, keep an eye on volume statistics—the higher the trading volume for a particular option, the more liquid it tends to be.

Liquidity plays an important role in options trading; without enough contracts available in an option market or ETF, traders may find themselves unable to enter or exit positions when needed without incurring large slippage costs or missing out on potential gains due to volatility in the markets.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, always check liquidity levels before entering into any trades! Doing so will help ensure that there are enough contracts available so that you don’t get stuck with no way out of your position when it comes time to close it out.

Where Will I Exit?

Trading can be a lucrative way to make money, but it requires a lot of discipline and strategy. One of the most important steps in any trading plan is creating an exit plan.

An effective exit plan should include clear stop-loss orders and profit-taking targets that traders can use as a guide when making decisions about their positions.

It also helps to keep emotions out of decision-making so that traders stick with their strategy no matter what happens during market hours.

Set Your Stop Loss Orders

The most important part of any exit plan is setting your stop loss orders. This refers to the maximum amount of money you are willing to lose on any given position before automatically closing it out so you don’t lose any more money than you intended.

Without stop losses, traders can easily get too emotional and end up losing more money than they had initially planned.

Setting stop losses should be done with both short-term and long-term trades in mind so that you can quickly close out positions if necessary without having to worry about missing out on potential profits if the trade goes in your favor over time.

For example, any time I buy a call or a put or a debit spread I know I will limit my losses to 50% of what I pay to put the position on. When you combine this with the fact that we are targeting 100% returns on the winning trades it takes a tremendous amount of pressure off my winning %.

I don’t need to win 80% of the time to make money.

Learning how to take a loss is a big step in becoming a successful trader. Making sure your winners are larger than the losers is also an important formula to have in place.

Set Your Profit-Taking Targets

Another important part of an effective trading exit plan is setting profit-taking targets. This refers to the amount of money you want to make from a trade before closing it out.

For example, if you set a target of 10% profit on each trade, then once you reach that mark, it might be wise to close out your position rather than letting it ride in hopes of continued profits down the line (which could also lead to greater losses). As mentioned earlier, we like to target 100% returns with calls, puts, and debit spreads. We won’t always get them, but that is our goal.

Setting these targets helps ensure that traders don’t get too greedy or emotional when making decisions about their trades and keeps them focused on their overall goals.

Be Flexible With Your Plan

It’s also important to remember that markets are always changing, which means your exit plan needs to be flexible enough to accommodate those changes as well!

That means keeping an eye on market news and trends so that you can adjust your stop-loss orders or profit-taking targets accordingly based on what’s happening in the markets at any given time.

This helps ensure that traders stay ahead of potential losses or missed opportunities by being able to quickly adapt their plans when needed.

An effective trading exit plan includes setting clear stop-loss orders and profit-taking targets while remaining flexible enough to accommodate changes in the markets at any given time.

By having this kind of strategy in place, traders will be better prepared for whatever comes their way during market hours, helping reduce stress and increase profits!

Having an exit plan gives traders peace of mind knowing they have taken all necessary precautions when entering into any new trades, ensuring they stick with their strategy no matter what happens during market hours!


Trading options can be lucrative but also risky if done improperly; luckily, asking yourself these five simple questions can instantly improve your chances of success! Not only do these questions provide insight into market conditions but they also help ensure that traders stay disciplined by adhering closely to their predetermined strategies and parameters every step of the way! This means that no matter what happens during market hours, traders will always be prepared and ready with a plan of action!

Looking to get started in the markets?

Dynamic Duo has your back. With this downloadable guide, you’ll have all the information you need to trade two highly successful markets and potentially see some serious profits. Plus, our one day options trading strategy offers even more potential for success.

So why wait? Download it now and start trading today!

Author: CoachShane
Shane his trading journey in 2005, became a Netpicks customer in 2008 needing structure in his trading approach. His focus is on the technical side of trading filtering in a macro overview and credits a handful of traders that have heavily influenced his relaxed approach to trading. Shane started day trading Forex but has since transitioned to a swing/position focus in most markets including commodities and futures. This has allowed less time in front of the computer without an adverse affect on returns.


  • Nice summary – too bad its a lot more difficult to trade and make money consistently in this market.

    I’m looking to find the options strategy that is the most successful in the current market, without taking a lot of risk.

    Seems that owning unhedged puts and calls is suicide.

    My most successful trades seem to be credit spreads, although you take on a fair amount of risk.

    The daily POP trades were good for a while, now its a loser and I’m not putting on any new trades.


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