Watching exquisitely trained Pokémon in tournaments can be an eye opening experience for new Trainers. It's hard not to marvel at the power that top competitors extract from their Pokémon, dealing jaw-dropping damage on offense and casually brushing off massive attacks on defense. These Pokémon perform so impressively because their Trainers know how to prime them for battle.
With some skill and effort, anyone can train their Pokémon to succeed in even the toughest matchups. The methods you'll learn here are vital if you're looking to become a top performer in the Video Game Championships. Training Pokémon effectively is also key to successful and deep runs in the Super Singles or Super Doubles challenges at the Battle Tree.
Both your Pokémon's natural aptitude and the way you nurture it through training will affect how it performs in battle. We'll start out by showing you how to get a top-flight Pokémon—one of the right species that has the Nature and Ability you want. Then we'll help you get the most out of its training.
Who's That Pokémon?
The first task in training a championship-ready Pokémon is deciding the ideal species and Nature for your Pokémon, and whether you want its Hidden Ability. These are all things that can't be changed through training, so it's best to begin with the Pokémon that's the closest to your goal.
In rare cases, you'll also need to be careful with the moves your Pokémon can later learn. The move Hidden Power can be almost any type depending the Pokémon using it, and that type never changes. If you plan to teach your Pokémon this move, head to the Pokémon Nursery to see what the Hidden Power's type would be. Also be careful when evolving—some Pokémon can only learn certain moves if they get to a particular level before they evolve.
Keep each Pokémon species' unique qualities in mind as you plan your training. Consider the moves each can learn, the Abilities they may have, their type, and their species strengths.
Species strengths are the unique strengths of each species of Pokémon that determine the general range of stats for its members. They're why all Lycanroc trend toward quickness and strength while all Golem are slow and sturdy, even though the stats of each individual Pokémon varies. Your Pokémon's species strengths can't be changed by any means.
The strategies that best suit a sturdy Pokémon are very different from those that best suit quicker Pokémon. Aim for a Nature and base stats that complement your Pokémon's strengths.
Force of Nature
A Pokémon's Nature can greatly impact two of its stats, so training Pokémon that have advantageous Natures is crucial. Natures typically make one stat grow much faster and another grow more slowly compared to its other stats. The stat whose name appears in blue on your Pokémon's Summary screen has a decreased maximum value, and the one in pink has an increased maximum value (green is normal value). No Natures affect HP.
Check out the difference between a Pikachu with a Timid Nature (which increases Speed and reduces Attack) and the same Pikachu with a Quirky Nature (which has no effect) below.
It's usually best to try for a Nature that focuses on your Pokémon's highest stat, or one you plan to dedicate your training to, rather than try to raise weaker stats. Natures increase stats by a percentage, so they're particularly impactful when combined with a high species strength—a naturally quick Pokémon will gain more stat points with a Nature that increases Speed than a slower Pokémon will. Teach your Pokémon only physical or special attacks so that you can avoid the drawbacks of Natures that reduce the other type of offensive stat.
|Nature||Increased stat||Decreased stat|
|Calm||Sp. Def||Attack |
|Careful||Sp. Def||Sp. Atk|
|Gentle||Sp. Def ||Defense |
|Hardy||— ||— |
|Hasty||Speed ||Defense |
|Impish||Defense ||Sp. Atk |
|Jolly||Speed ||Sp. Atk |
|Lax||Defense ||Sp. Def |
|Lonely||Attack ||Defense |
|Mild||Sp. Atk ||Defense |
|Modest||Sp. Atk ||Attack |
|Naive||Speed ||Sp. Def |
|Naughty||Attack ||Sp. Def |
|Quiet||Sp. Atk ||Speed |
|Quirky ||— ||— |
|Rash||Sp. Atk ||Sp. Def |
|Relaxed||Defense ||Speed |
|Sassy||Sp. Def ||Speed |
|Serious||— ||— |
|Timid||Speed ||Attack |
One key to acquiring Pokémon with the Natures you need is the Synchronize Ability. Start by placing a Pokémon with Synchronize and the desired Nature at the head of your party. Wild Pokémon you encounter will have a 50% chance to have the same Nature as the Pokémon with Synchronize. This chance is increased to 100% for Pokémon you receive as a gift during your adventures, such as Poipole or Porygon. Synchronize will not affect Pokémon you receive as a Mystery Gift. If you don't have a Pokémon with Synchronize, track down an Abra in Hau'oli City.
You can also develop Pokémon with the Nature you need when discovering Pokémon Eggs at the Pokémon Nursery. First, collect one Ditto of each Nature you want. Ditto can be found in the tall grass on Mount Hokulani.
If you leave a Pokémon holding an Everstone in the Pokémon Nursery, any Eggs discovered will have the same Nature as it does. So a Ditto with an Everstone placed in the Pokémon Nursery with most other Pokémon will allow you to find Eggs with Ditto's Nature without having to worry about gender or Egg Groups.
Show Your Ability
Many Trainers base entire strategies around powerful Abilities such as Defiant, Drought, Friend Guard, Intimidate, Lightning Rod, and Swift Swim. Pokémon perform better with the right Abilities to suit your preferred strategies, so how do you make sure your team has the right ones?
If you get a Pokémon that has the right Nature but the wrong common Ability, don't worry. You can change between the two common Abilities most Pokémon can have using the Ability Capsule item, which you can purchase with BP at the Battle Tree. However, you can't cause a Pokémon to switch to or from its Hidden Ability. Also note that many Pokémon species have just one possible Ability, and may or may not have a Hidden Ability.
If you're looking to use a strategy based around a Pokémon's Hidden Ability, finding one with the right Nature to go with it can be time consuming. Fortunately, there's a shortcut. As long as you have any Pokémon of the species you want with its Hidden Ability, you're halfway there. If you don't, try SOS battles or transferring a Pokémon from one of the Virtual Console games.
Your next stop is the Pokémon Nursery. Pokémon Eggs often inherit their Ability from the female Pokémon you leave there (or the male Pokémon if the other Pokémon is a Ditto). You can use the Pokémon Nursery to help you get a primo Pokémon by placing a Pokémon that has your desired Ability in the Nursery with a Ditto that has your desired Nature.
Once you have a Pokémon with the Ability and Nature you're looking for, the rest comes down to training. Affection won't impact battles between players or in the Battle Tree, while friendship will have an effect only if a Pokémon knows Return or Frustration.
All About Those Base Stats
One of the most important aspects of raising a Pokémon is making the most of its base stats. Base stats are underlying values that help determine the growth of a Pokémon's six major stats—HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack (Sp. Atk), Special Defense (Sp. Def), and Speed. They start at zero, but can be increased in several ways. You won't be able to train your Pokémon to have the best possible base stats in every category because there are limits to how much you can improve each base stat and the total of all six stats. These limits allow you to either hit the maximum in two stats with a tiny bit left over for a third, or spread your Pokémon's training more evenly among a greater number of stats.
We suggest focusing on maximizing two of your Pokémon's stats—usually Speed and Attack or Special Attack for more Pokémon intended to play offense, or HP and Attack or Special Attack for more defensively oriented Pokémon. Unlike Nature, base stats offer the same stat increase for any species, so base stats can make a greater impact on Pokémon with exceptionally low stats, such as Blissey's Defense. In most cases, though, it's still best to further enhance your Pokémon where it is already strong.
Check out the status screens below to see the impact training base stats can have. The left screenshot shows a Pikachu with no base stat increases, while on the right is a Pikachu that's 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 Summary 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 fairly evenly. Check out the sparkles next to the Sp. Atk and Speed of the Pikachu we trained—that's how you know you've trained a stat to its maximum. The graph also changes color from orange to cyan once your Pokémon's training is complete. The untrained Pikachu's graph is entirely yellow, while the trained Pikachu's graph has cyan.
Turn Up That Base Stat
Your Pokémon's base stats can be improved through winning battles, playing at Isle Evelup, bouncy houses at Festival Plaza, and by giving Pokémon special items.
Every time you participate in a battle that can reward Experience Points, the base stats of Pokémon that received Exp. Points can 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.
Pokémon that answer the call for help in SOS battles award double the normal base stat increases, so SOS battles are a prime means for training Pokémon efficiently. The process will speed up even more if you have your Pokémon hold one of the six “power” items, such as a Power Belt or Power Band. These can be purchased in the Royal Battle Dome, and each increases the growth rate of a specific stat each time an opposing Pokémon is defeated. Their bonus is also doubled in SOS battles.
If you're looking for further ways 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, so use them before you train. Each stat has a corresponding vitamin.
After using any vitamins, have your Pokémon hold the power item that corresponds with the stat you'd like to raise. Then check the SOS Encounter column in the chart below to find the location to raise your desired stat, and run away from encounters until you can start an SOS battle against the Pokémon listed.
|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 (Route 15)||Power Belt||Iron|
|Sp. Atk||Gastly (Hau'oli Cemetery)||Power Lens||Calcium|
|Sp. Def||Tentacool or Pyukumuku (Hano Beach while riding Lapras or Sharpedo)||Power Band||Zinc|
|Speed||Diglett (Diglett's Tunnel)||Power Anklet||Carbos|
If you're using only SOS battles to train, you'll need to defeat about a dozen Pokémon to maximize one stat. Remember that 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 faint. If you need a little more guidance to SOS battles, check out our guide on the subject.
You can also use Isle Evelup in Poké Pelago for some hands-off base stat training. Once you develop Isle Evelup to Phase 3, each play session will allow a Lv. 100 Pokémon to gain one point in a stat, so a little more than 60 play sessions will maximize one of a Pokémon's base stats. It takes longer if Isle Evelup hasn't been developed fully. Read more about Poké Pelago here.
Bouncy houses in Festival Plaza offer the quickest way to train Pokémon as long as you have high-level facilities and a lot of Festival Coins. 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 expensive because each course costs many Festival Coins, but it's the fastest way to get a Pokémon into top battling shape. Read more about Festival Plaza here, and remember to participate in global missions to earn the FC required to use this method!
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. You have two main options to refocus their training.
The easiest way is by feeding your Pokémon special Berries found on Route 10. Each will slightly reduce a Pokémon's base stats in one category, freeing up room to add to another category. And the Berries will make Pokémon a little more friendly, too!
Also take advantage of 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 to a lesser extent.
Everybody Get Hype
A Pokémon's individual strengths are yet another factor that makes Pokémon different from each other. An individual strength is the innate affinity each individual Pokémon has for each stat. A Pokémon with a higher individual strength in Attack will have faster stat gains and have a higher maximum Attack stat than a Pokémon of the same species with a lower individual strength in Attack. You can check out your Pokémon's individual strengths at a PC if you've unlocked the Judge feature by hatching 20 Pokémon Eggs and talking to an Ace Trainer at the Battle Tree.
It used to be impossible to change individual strengths, but that all changed with the introduction of Hyper Training. Don't worry too much about your Pokémon's individual strengths at first—you can boost any Lv. 100 Pokémon's individual strengths to the max by collecting Bottle Caps or Gold Bottle Caps, then visiting Mr. Hyper at the Hau'oli City Shopping Mall. Any Pokémon with your desired Nature and Ability can now achieve the highest possible strengths for their species.
Getting to Lv. 100 to use Hyper Training, though, takes some effort. The Lucky Egg item helps Pokémon earn extra Exp. Points. You can get one from Professor Kukui after becoming Champion if you have at least 50 Pokémon registered in your Pokédex, and you can potentially get more by using Thief or Covet on the wild Blissey that sometimes appear in SOS battles against Chansey on the Poni Plains. These battles also net you some excellent experience, but don't forget to check out the Kantonian Gym in Malie City and the Pokémon League for other good repeatable sources of Exp. Points.
Training Pokémon for competitive play can take some planning and effort to get the species, Ability, Nature, and base stats you need to suit your strategy. 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.co.uk/Strategy for more Pokémon TCG and video game articles, strategy, and tournament analysis!