Watching the incredible Pokémon on display in tournaments can be eye-opening for new Trainers. It's hard not to marvel at the extra power that top competitors manage to extract from their Pokémon. They often deal jaw-dropping damage on offense and brush off powerful attacks from their opponents with ease. These Trainers and their Pokémon aren't using magic tricks. The Pokémon perform so impressively because their Trainers know just how to prime them for battle.
With a good amount of effort, anyone can train their Pokémon to succeed in even the toughest matchups. You'll have to work hard with your Pokémon, but the results will speak for themselves as you rack up victories. The methods you'll learn here are vital if you're looking to become a top performer in the Video Game Championships or Pokémon Global Link Online Competitions.
All About Those Base Stats
One of the most important aspects of raising a Pokémon is to make the most of base stats.
Base stats are the underlying values of a Pokémon's six major stats—HP, Attack, Defense, Speed, Special Attack (Sp. Atk), and Special Defense (Sp. Def)—that help determine the growth rate for each of those parameters. Every time you participate in a battle that can reward Experience Points (Exp. Points), the base stats of the Pokémon that participated in the battle will also increase. (Note that the Exp. Share awards full base stat gains to all Pokémon eligible to receive Exp. Points.) Which base stat will be increased depends on the species of Pokémon defeated. For example, defeating Pokémon with high Defense like Skarmory will help your Pokémon's Defense improve, too. The only factor that determines which base stats grow and by how much is the species of Pokémon you battled—the opponent's level and training don't matter.
You won't be able to train your Pokémon to have the best possible base stats in every category because there's a limit to how much you can improve the total base stats of each Pokémon. You can either maximize two stats with a tiny bit leftover for another category, or you can spread your Pokémon's training more evenly among a greater number of stats. Top-performing Trainers tend to boost base stats that maximize their Pokémon's strengths or allow them to execute unique strategies in battle. When Trainers and commentators refer to a Pokémon's “training,” they're referring to the way the Pokémon's base stats were improved.
Training can radically change a Pokémon's stats. Check out the status screens below. Both screenshots show the same Pikachu. The left screenshot shows the Pikachu with no base stat increases, while the Pikachu on the right has been trained to maximize its Sp. Atk and Speed.
You can see how your Pokémon's base stats are distributed by pressing the Y button on the Pokémon's status screen. If you've been training your Pokémon by battling whichever foes you come across, you'll probably find that your Pokémon's base stats are distributed pretty evenly. Check out the sparkle next to the Sp. Atk and Speed of the Pikachu we trained earlier—that's how you know you've trained a stat to the maximum. The graph also changes colors from yellow to blue once your Pokémon's training is complete. The untrained Pikachu's graph is yellow, while the trained Pikachu's graph is blue.
Your Pokémon's base stats can be improved through winning battles, playing at Isle Evelup, and by giving Pokémon special items. And remember: training Pokémon takes some time and some work. Before you get started, you may want to capture a few Pokémon of the same species and compare their stats before selecting one to train.
Most top Trainers choose to boost their Pokémon's base stats through SOS Battles. Pokémon that answer the call for help award double the normal base stat increases, so SOS Battles are a prime means for training Pokémon efficiently. The process will be expedited even further if you have your Pokémon hold one of the six “power” items, such as a Power Belt or Power Band. Each adds extra base stats to a specific stat after an opposing Pokémon is defeated, and their bonus is also doubled in SOS Battles. These items can be purchased at the Battle Royal Dome on Akala Island. We'd recommend you acquire each of them before you start training Pokémon for competitive battles. And keep in mind that battles at special facilities like the Battle Tree or the Battle Spot won't increase your Pokémon's base stats.
If you're looking to speed up your training, you can give your Pokémon vitamins, like Protein and Calcium. These consumable items can increase a Pokémon's base stats in a single stat category, but they'll stop being effective long before you reach a stat's peak. Each stat has a corresponding vitamin:
|Base Stat||SOS Encounter||Power Item||Vitamin|
|HP||Wailmer (fishing in Seafolk Village)||Power Weight||HP Up|
|Attack||Crabrawler (any Berry Tree)||Power Bracer||Protein|
|Defense||Pelipper or Exeggcute (Exeggutor Island)||Power Belt||Iron|
|Sp. Atk||Gastly (Hau'oli Cemetery)||Power Lens||Calcium|
|Sp. Def||Tentacool or Pyukumuku (Hano Beach while Surfing)||Power Band||Zinc|
|Speed||Diglett (Diglett's Tunnel)||Power Anklet||Carbos|
After using vitamins (or not), have your Pokémon hold the power item that corresponds with the stat you'd like to raise. Then visit the location in your desired stat's SOS Encounter column and run away from encounters until you can start an SOS Battle against the listed Pokémon. If you're using only SOS Battles, you'll need to defeat just over a dozen Pokémon to maximize each stat. The Pokémon being trained doesn't need to participate in battle itself—if the Exp. Share is active, each of your Pokémon will gain base stats as opposing Pokémon are knocked out. If you're not quite wrapping your head around this talk of SOS Battles, check out our guide on the subject.
You can also use Isle Evelup in the Poké Pelago for some hands-off base stat training. Once you develop Isle Evelup to Phase 3, each play session will increase the base stats of a Lv. 50 Pokémon enough to gain a point in one stat, while a higher-level Pokémon might grow more quickly. Pokémon will gain fewer base stats each session if Isle Evelup hasn't been developed fully. It takes a little more than 60 play sessions on a Phase 3 Isle Evelup to maximize one of a Pokémon's stats. Read more about Poké Pelago here.
Bouncy houses in the Festival Plaza offer the quickest way to train Pokémon—as long as you're lucky enough to find high-level facilities. Courses with a six-star rank will instantly award a Pokémon with half of their maximum base stats in one category, while a course with a seven-star rank will max out that stat completely. This method can be taxing because each course costs a large number of Festival Coins, but it's the fastest way to get a Pokémon into top battling shape. Read more about Festival Plaza here, and don't forget to participate in global missions to earn the FC required to use this method!
Strong, Stout, or Speedy
Now you know how to train your Pokémon, but how do you determine which stats are best to train? Your choice can be influenced by your Pokémon's stats, the strategy you want to execute, and the opponents you expect to face. Picking the right stats to train can be a complicated decision, but we have a few tips that should make things easier.
Start simple if you're new to competitive battling. Train two of your Pokémon's stats to the maximum instead of splitting your training between many different stats. This helps your Pokémon specialize in what they're best at. Advanced players will sometimes train their Pokémon with just enough Speed to outrun a difficult opponent, then use their leftover base stats to increase their defensive stats instead of maximizing Speed. But even the best players are better off with a simpler approach sometimes—it's hard to anticipate when an unexpected Pokémon could make that sacrificed Speed matter. Keep it simple while you're getting comfortable and stick to two stats.
Focus on your Pokémon's most important stats. The majority of Pokémon benefit from maximizing an attacking stat, but it's important to pick the right one. Every damage-dealing move falls into either the Attack or Sp. Atk categories, and the damage dealt depends on the Pokémon's stats. The initial power of a physical attack depends on your Pokémon's Attack stat, while a special move's strength is determined by its Sp. Atk. For instance, Golisopod's Attack is normally much higher than its Sp. Atk, so you'd want to train the former and teach it physical attacks like Liquidation instead of special attacks like Surf. Remember the icons below—the first screenshot shows a physical move, while the second shows a special move.
Speed is the stat Trainers invest in most frequently. Quick, frail Pokémon like Greninja, Blaziken, and Lycanroc prosper the most from maximizing their Speed. And even Pokémon with more modest Speed stats often benefit from outpacing foes with similar Speeds. But don't take this approach with all your Pokémon—the slowest, like Torkoal, Gigalith, or Snorlax, won't gain much from Speed training. These Pokémon would benefit much more from training in HP, Defense, or Sp. Def. Plus, keeping your slowest Pokémon as slow as possible will help if an opponent uses Trick Room.
Finally, remember: there's no best way to train any Pokémon. We've seen Trainers win tournaments with versatile Pokémon like Tapu Koko and Tyranitar trained dozens of different ways. Keep your strategies and teammates in mind when deciding how to train your Pokémon, and never stop experimenting.
Try, Try Again
Don't worry if you've already trained some of your favorite Pokémon differently than you'd prefer—you can still adjust their base stats. If you'd like to rearrange things to help them perform better, you have two main options.
The easiest way is by feeding your Pokémon special Berries. Each of the following Berries will slightly reduce a Pokémon's base stats in one category, and it'll make them a little more friendly, too!
There are also special food stalls available at Festival Plaza that can help readjust your Pokémon's base stats. Secret Meals will reset your Pokémon's base stats in one stat category to zero, while Sweets Sets will reduce them just a little.
As you can see, training a Pokémon for competitive play takes planning and effort. But the time you put into training the best Pokémon you can is not only fun, it will pay off in victories! Good luck building your next championship team. And remember to keep checking Pokemon.com/Strategy for more Pokémon video game strategy and analysis!