Pokémon training is a broad term which describes everything a Pokémon Trainer does in their quest to become a Pokémon Master. Mostly, it relates to raising Pokémon particularly for battle. Many people in the Pokémon world practice Pokémon training to some extent.
In a broad sense, Pokémon training is based on the answer to two questions: What should the relationship between a Pokémon Trainer and Pokémon be, and what is the best way to foster this relationship? Depending on their individual viewpoints regarding training, different Trainers follow different methods of training and focus on different areas. It is generally thought that there is no one right way to train, since many methods have valid reasons behind them and their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
However, in particular, many training methods will fall into one of two categories. The first category is methods which focus on the friendship and well-being of Pokémon and developing a bond of friendship. The second category is methods which focus on developing the strength and ability of a Pokémon and being able to control it masterfully. Trainers will often argue about which of these two views is best. In fact, this is a common theme in the canon, frequently supporting the idea that friendship is the most important thing in a Trainer's relationship with Pokémon, and a good Trainer can bring out the strength of any Pokémon with their love and care.
However, the debate has carried over to the fans of the Pokémon series, particularly between players of the Pokémon games. Some follow the messages of the canon, raising and battling Pokémon with love and care, doing their best to make the best of any Pokémon without dwelling too much on its relative strength. Others focus on raising Pokémon for the exclusive purpose of doing well in competition, and will go to many lengths to ensure they raise the most powerful Pokémon possible. There is no clear answer about which of the two methods is better, since both have their advantages and disadvantages.
- Main article: Caught Pokémon
Generally, when a Trainer begins their quest, the local Pokémon Professor will provide them with three things: a starter Pokémon, some Poké Balls, and an empty Pokédex. The first two will help the Trainer capture wild Pokémon, which will add information to the Pokédex. As researchers, professors enlist in the aid of Trainers to help them gather information on Pokémon.
However, catching many different kinds of Pokémon is beneficial to Trainers as well. Learning to capture common Pokémon will teach them the skills they need to capture rare and powerful Pokémon, or even Legendary Pokémon. Having lots of Pokémon also gives the Trainer more selection in which Pokémon they would like to raise, and adds lots of useful information to their Pokédex about different species of Pokémon.
Building a team
- Main article: Party
Out of all the captured Pokémon a Trainer may have, they can only keep six of these on their party, and cannot always send all six into battle. Therefore, a Trainer usually focuses on training no more than six Pokémon at a time.
Some Trainers, such as Ash, do not put much thought into this, and simply choose Pokémon which appeal to them or who wish to travel with them. Other Trainers, such as Gary, build their teams with great care, selecting Pokémon which work well together and can take down a wide variety of opponents. Still other Trainers who are even more focused on building a strong team, such as Paul, may go out of their way to make sure they capture the strongest of a species, finding one which has a Nature and IVs which are most beneficial to it, or selectively breed Pokémon to get the best moves.
In the Pokémon Adventures manga, rather than being unable to carry more than six on a team, it is just common practice to do so, as it is believed that a Trainer cannot give more than six Pokémon a fair amount of attention.
A Trainer is responsible for the health and friendship of their Pokémon. Therefore, Trainers are expected to feed them, take them to Pokémon Centers regularly, heal their status conditions, revive them when they have fainted, and give them attention and affection.
Neglecting and abusing a Pokémon is often looked down upon, since it reflects a severe lack of responsibility as a Trainer. Some villainous teams, however, feel abusing a Pokémon will actually make the Pokémon stronger. Cipher takes this idea to an extreme and will "close the heart's door", turning normal Pokémon into Shadow Pokémon. Therefore, restoring them to their natural state by purification is considered a method of caretaking as well.
Building strength and skill
Though some Trainers are happy with raising happy, healthy Pokémon, many Trainers want to battle with their Pokémon and thus need to develop its combat abilities. This is often to the benefit of the Pokémon as well, since Pokémon often exhibit a desire to fight and become stronger. Often, this is the aspect most associated with the term Pokémon training.
The easiest way to raise a Pokémon's strength is to battle the Pokémon, which will give it experience and allow it to gain levels, thus improving its stats and generally making it stronger. Trainers also teach their Pokémon new moves which will aid it in battle. Some Trainers may even monitor a Pokémon's effort values to ensure that their Pokémon gains the most beneficial stats.
- Main article: Evolution
Managing a Pokémon's evolution is an important part of training, though it can easily fall under general caretaking or building strength depending on the Trainer's motivation. A Trainer has a large amount of control in deciding when and how their Pokémon should evolve. This grants them a lot of control over the strength of their Pokémon. However, not all Trainers evolve their Pokémon purely for reasons of strength, and some may even choose to leave them unevolved.
- Main article: Pokémon battle
Though other aspects of Pokémon training are as important as battling, many feel that how well a Trainer battles is the best demonstration of how well they train. It raises the question of whether those who excel in specific areas of training are worse Trainers, which may be why the definition of Pokémon Champion is well-defined while the definition of Pokémon Master is ambiguous.
Still, ability in battle is widely regarded as the "payoff" of Pokémon training because it tests the health and strength of the Pokémon, the tactics of the Trainer, and the relationship between them all at once. Battling is an essential part of training in other senses, too, since most Pokémon are captured in battle and most Pokémon are raised in battle.