When trading futures you actually use contracts in two different ways.
When futures contracts started, you have to remember they were for physical items with expiration dates. They were commodities.
Even though we trade the ES e-mini which has no real products, it still works on a contract basis. The normal term for contracts is quarterly:
March – 03/year (December – March)
June -06/year (March – June)
September – 09/year (June – September)
December – 12/year (September – December)
The rollover for the contract is usually 8 days before the actual contract date. There is no real reason for this, it simply works this way.
With the chart platform – Ninja Trader, they send you a notice telling you when to change the contract (this isn’t too important, just something for you to be aware of for now).
Contracts are also what we use during the day when trading.
For example, when you buy/sell stocks you usually pick a company and buy a certain number of shares. You can buy one or you can buy 1000.
The same with futures. Instead of shares, we use contracts (nothing to do with the actual contract with the rollovers – not sure why they call it the same LOL). You can buy one contract or 10 or 100 – it is completely up to you.
For beginners it is not at all recommended to do more than 2 or 3 contracts. Most likely starting with one contract at a time.
Marina 'The Trader Chick' Villatoro