Appendix:Pokémon GO Player's Guide/Gyms

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Basics of Gyms in Pokémon GO

A Gym claimed by Team Valor, with a Metagross as its newest addition

The Pokémon Gym challenge has been the core of the Pokémon narrative for over twenty years now, and as such, the Gym mechanic of Pokémon GO is arguably the most complex and nuanced feature of the game. Before Trainers can even begin claiming Gyms in Pokémon GO, they must have at least reached Trainer level 5. If you are not yet Level 5, you are encouraged to get back out there and catch every Pokémon you see and visit every PokéStop you can. Before long, you'll be ready to begin battling Gyms and claim them for your own.

Upon reaching Trainer Level 5, you'll be prompted to choose one of three teams.

  • Team Instinct is represented by Zapdos and led by Spark. They research Pokémon breeding and state that if you trust your instincts, you can't lose.
  • Team Mystic is represented by Articuno and led by Blanche. They value Pokémon evolution and state that calm analysis is the key to victory.
  • Team Valor is represented by Moltres and led by Candela. They value training, battling, and pure strength.

Your team affiliation is permanent and affects only how you interact with Gyms. However, you can change teams with the Team Medallion (Japanese: チームへんこう メダリオン Team Change Medallion), a one-use item that can be purchased for  1,000 and can only be purchased once per every 365 days. All other aspects are merely cosmetic.

In Pokémon GO, like the core series games, players can challenge Pokémon Gyms, which are shown on the map as large towers. If a Gym is visible on your screen, it can be selected from any distance away, and its information can be scouted. The Gym screen will always show the Pokémon stationed there, the Pokémon's CP, the Trainers who have claimed the Gym (if any), the Trainer's level, the amount of Berries they have been fed whilst in the Gym, the amount of time they have spent defending the Gym, and the battles fought by the defending Pokémon. Once the Pokémon is defeated, it will be removed from the Gym, and its stats will disappear.

Gyms are, at any given moment, in one of three states. It can be an unowned Gym, a friendly Gym (a Gym which is owned by your team), or a rival Gym (a Gym owned by a different team).

  • If the tower's color is white, it means that the Gym is without an owner at the moment. If near the Gym, you can select it, and use Add Pokémon (the icon in the lower-left corner of the Gym display screen) to gain control of the Gym immediately.
  • If a Gym tower's color matches your team's color, it is a friendly Gym. Trainers on the same team as the Gym can:
    • Give Berries to the Pokémon at the Gym, increasing their motivation. This is done by opening the Gym display screen and tapping on the Pokémon the Berry icon in the lower right corner of the screen. Feeding Pokemon at a Gym when they are on the same team as yours raises the Motivation of all Pokémon in that Gym, strengthening it, and you earn Stardust.
    • Add a Pokémon to the Gym, if there are less than 6 Pokémon within the Gym. You do this by opening the Gym display screen and selecting Add a Pokémon, in the lower-left corner of the screen. A Pokémon placed in a Gym cannot be removed until it is defeated by a challenging Trainer, at which point the Pokémon will return to your collection so you can use it again. This Pokémon will return at 0 HP, so remember to use healing items to restore your Pokémon's health when it returns.
  • If a Gym tower's color does not match your team's color, it is a rival Gym. Trainers on a different team as the Gym can:
    • Fight there, by fighting Pokemon stationed at the Gym. You do this by opening the Gym display screen and selecting Fight, the icon in the lower right corner of the screen. Defeating Pokemon at a Gym when they are on a different team lowers the Motivation of all Pokémon in the Gym, weakening it, and you earn experience points.


Let's create a short scenario: You are a Trainer aligned with Team Mystic and across the street from your house is a Gym that has also been claimed by Team Mystic. This Gym can be used as a training spot for your own Pokémon. Defeating the defending Pokémon will make earn experience for both Pokémon and Prestige points for the Gym. Don't worry, you don't have to defeat all Gym defenders to earn experience and Prestige. Each Pokémon you defeat will yield at least some rewards. In addition, your Pokémon cannot faint during training battles, instead remaining at a minimum of 1 HP.

Raising Prestige points for the team will increase the Gym's overall level and will allow more friendly Trainers to defend it from being claimed by rival teams. Currently, the maximum level and amount of Pokémon that can be stationed at a Gym is 10.

Defeating a Gym

A Trainer has defeated the Gym and depleted all its prestige, making it neutral and up for grabs now

Like in the core series games, you will need to make use of strategies to defeat the Gym Leader or Leaders. Things such as type effectiveness can play a big role on defeating them, but the most important thing to take into account is knowing their Combat Power (CP).

You should usually use your strongest Pokémon during the battle. It could take a few battles to claim a Gym as yours, especially when there are more Pokémon to defeat. A battle of attrition makes the Gym lose their Prestige level, reducing the number of usable Pokémon and improving the chances of defeating the Gym. Gyms lose Prestige for every Pokémon a challenger defeats (so it's not necessary to defeat all of them at once), but lose much more Prestige if all of the defending Pokémon are defeated.

Pokémon that are stationed at Gyms will be ordered by CP with the weakest being fought first and the strongest being fought last. In addition, the strongest Pokémon in the Gym will be marked with a crown icon on the Gym home screen, signifying that they are the Gym Leader.

You may need to battle a Gym multiple times in order to fully claim it. Gyms will lose approximately one level for each time you defeat its full compliment of defenders. As a Gym loses levels it will also lose defending Pokémon. If you can get a Gym down to Level 1 with a prestige of 0 you will have defeated the Gym completely.

Once defeated the Gym tower will be colorless and will no longer be affiliated with any team. Deposit one of your Pokémon in the now vacant Gym in order to claim it for you and your team. Remember, only Pokémon will full hit points can be deposited in Gyms.

For now Gyms are the only places where you can fight in Pokémon battles.

× Defending type

  0.714× 0.51× 0.714×
  1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 1.4× 0.714× 0.51× 1.4× 0.714× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714×
  1.4× 0.714× 1.4× 0.714× 1.4× 0.714×
  0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 0.51× 1.4× 1.4×
  0.51× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714× 1.4×
  0.714× 1.4× 0.714× 1.4× 0.714× 1.4× 1.4×
  0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 1.4× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714×
  0.51× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714×
  1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 1.4× 1.4×
  0.714× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714×
  1.4× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714×
  0.714× 0.714× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 1.4× 0.714× 0.714×
  1.4× 0.51× 1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714×
  1.4× 1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 0.51×
  1.4× 1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 1.4× 0.714× 1.4×
  0.714× 1.4× 0.51×
  0.714× 1.4× 1.4× 0.714× 0.714×
  1.4× 0.714× 0.714× 0.714× 1.4× 1.4×
These matchups are suitable for Pokémon GO.

Gym battles

A Pokémon battle at a Gym

In Pokémon GO, battles can only be conducted at Gyms. Battles are not turn-based, and they are not conducted directly between two players. Rather, your opponent is always under AI control. Battles are also timed, with a limit of 100 seconds per defender.

When you fight at Gyms and defeat a Pokemon, you will earn experience points.

At a rival Gym, you will choose six of your own Pokémon to battle one or more Pokémon from the Gym. If you lose, your Pokémon faint.

During a battle, you can make your Pokémon perform three basic actions.

  • Dodge: Swipe left or right on the screen.
  • Fast Attack: Tap your screen repeatedly.
  • Charged Attack: Tap the icon detailing the move's type; BUT, this can only be used after the special attack meter is charged!

Basic type effectiveness also plays an important role, exactly like in the core games. Same-type attack bonus is only 1.25× in Pokémon GO, so it's less important than in the core series games.

One button in the bottom-right of the screen will also allow you to switch to another Pokémon on your team. A button at the top-left of the screen will allow you to forfeit the match altogether.


Dodging can prove vital to prolonging a low-powered Pokémon's fight against a high-powered opponent! When a Pokémon is about to use its secondary attack a message will appear above its head. Do your best to avoid these attacks.

But beware! Successfully dodging an attack is about timing. Even if you're out of your opponent's apparent line of attack, if you don't dodge at the right time, you can still get hit.


All Pokémon have two moves, as seen on their summary screen (under the label "8" seen here). The first move listed is the Pokémon's fast attack, and the second is its special attack.

Fast attacks

A Pokémon's fast attack can be used at any time during a battle simply by tapping your Pokémon. Using your Pokémon's fast attack charges its special attack meter.

Special attacks

Using a Pokémon's special attack requires that it consume one charged bar of its special attack meter and is triggered by holding a long press on your Pokémon. This pressing requires a slight charging time, during which your Pokémon can be hit, so timing this attack well may be wise.

Special attack meter

On a Pokémon's summary screen, the blue bar or bars shown after the special attack's name make up its special attack meter. As a rule, a special attack's power is inversely related to the number of bars in its meter. That is, a weak special attack like Struggle has a power of 15 and 5 bars, while a strong special attack like Hyper Beam has a power of 70 and 1 bar. In the end, what this means is simply that weaker special attacks can be used more often or in quick succession if so desired, while stronger special attacks can only be used infrequently (since they need more charging for one use) and fewer times in succession.

During battle, the special attack meter starts out as an empty gray meter under your Pokémon's HP and must be filled. It can be filled two ways:

  • Use fast attacks
  • Take damage from the opponent

Each attack received or dealt does not necessarily fill a whole bar of the special attack meter. It may only fill a small portion, or it may fill a large portion.

If your Pokémon faints or switches, its special attack meter is reset!

Important factors in a battle

These are the statistics that will influence how well one of your Pokémon will do against another Pokémon in battle. Smart play in attacking and dodging can potentially mitigate any disadvantages you may have against a "stronger" Pokémon, but at the same time, being more evenly matched will make for an easier battle.

  • HP (Hit Points): obviously more HP means you (or your opponent) can survive longer. Exact HP cannot actually be seen in-battle, so you may have to keep it in mind for your own Pokémon or try to guess it based on your opponent's CP.
  • CP (Combat Power): this is a measure of a Pokémon's attack strength. It can also suggest a Pokémon's HP, as CP and HP usually increase together.
  • Attack power: the power of your Pokémon's fast and special attacks. Most fast attacks are relatively weak while special attacks are generally stronger, sometimes significantly so. However, the requirement to charge your special attack means you won't be able to use it as often as your fast attack (especially for stronger special attacks).
  • Types: attacking and defending types also factor into damage just like in the core games.

Defending your Gym

Use your strongest Pokémon if you want to keep the Gym for your team

When your team has a Gym, plenty of Trainers are required to work together so as to build up the Gym's defense. Upon challenging a friendly Gym, you are helping it build their Prestige level up, so that more Pokémon can be used to defend the Gym.

Battles in a friendly Gym are similar to those fought in a rival one, although neither the Gym's Pokémon nor Prestige level will be damaged. However, your Pokémon will be damaged, so you will need to heal them through items obtained at PokéStops.

The longer you keep on battling on that Gym, the better its Prestige level will be, eventually allowing another slot on the Pokémon list for defending the tower. The higher the Prestige level is, the longer it will take for Gyms to level up even further. For example, going from level 2 to 3 can be done in about two matches while going from Level 6 to 7 could take over ten matches.

If you are near a friendly Gym and it is possible to reinforce it, you will see the Add Pokémon icon in the lower left corner of the Gym display screen. (If the gym has insufficient prestige to allow you to add a Pokemon, only the Fight icon will be present in the lower right corner.) If available, touch Add Pokémon, and select the Pokémon you want to add to the Gym. Bear in mind that you can only add one Pokémon per Gym, so make sure to choose carefully.

Defender bonus

Earning PokéCoins and Stardust with only one Pokémon stationed in a Gym

For each Gym you have Added a Pokémon to, you can collect your Defender bonus. The Defender bonus is:

  • 500 Stardust and 10 PokéCoins for each friendly Gym that holds at least one of your Pokémon
  • ...for up to ten Gyms (5000 Stardust and 100 PokeCoins maximum)
  • the moment you claim the Defender bonus.

How to collect the Defender bonus

In the Store/items menu, you will find a shield icon which will let you know how many Pokémon you own that are defending friendly Gyms at that moment. Tap it to collect any rewards.

When the Defender bonus is available

The Defender bonus is a real-time reward. This means that if you Add a Pokémon to a friendly gym, your Defender bonus counter will immediately rise by one. Conversely, if a friendly Gym's prestige falls low enough that a defending Pokémon you own is sent back to you, your Defender bonus counter immediately falls by one.

After you collect the Defender bonus, the option to collect it again is locked out for 21 hours. The lockout timer is an unconditional 21 hours, regardless of whether you add new Pokémon to friendly Gyms or have defending Pokémon sent back to you in the meantime. The 21 hour counter does not reset even if all of your Pokémon are returned to you (meaning your Defender bonus counter is 0).

When to collect the Defender bonus is left as an exercise to the Pokémon Go trainer -- a balance between how widely your powerful Pokémon are spread amongst friendly Gyms (maximizing your counter and its reward) with how long you believe they will last defending said gyms (which reduces that counter and the bonus).

When interacting with other players

While Pokémon GO does not currently feature any direct connection between players' devices, there are still ways for players to interact at Gyms. If a tower on the map has explosions and battle signs, it means that the Gym is being challenged by other Trainers. You may choose to assist the challenger, even if they are on a different team. Joining a battle will allow both Trainers' Pokémon to appear on each other's screens and both Pokémon will be able to team up to defeat the defending Pokémon. Remember though that defeating a Gym leaves in its neutral stage. If you're fighting alongside an opposing team member, you'll have to be quick if you want to claim the Gym for yourself.

Good sportsmanship

As Pokémon Trainers, you should always practice good sportsmanship when interacting with others playing the game, especially when it comes to Gyms. Although we laugh and make jokes about the turf-war nature of teams controlling Gyms, they should never come at the expense of anyone's enjoyment of the game. Here are a few tips for sportsmanship and Gym challenges.

Respect for Gym locations

  • Many Gyms are at locations such as churches, hospitals, and cemeteries. In some cases they may also be located at a place of residence, or in an area protected by a homeowner's association or gated community. Always be aware of where Gyms are located and do not trespass. If asked by security, neighborhood watch, or local police to leave the premises, always be polite and comply. If a resident asks you to leave their property, apologize and comply.
  • Although Gym venues are available inside the Pokémon Go game 24 hours a day, remember that the place the Gym is located in may not be open at all hours. For example, if a park or cemetery closes at night, respect those operating hours. This is good practice not only for safety and courtesy reasons, but because not respecting these hours is, in many locations, trespassing. The Gym you want to defeat or defend will still be there in the morning.

Respect for all Trainers

  • Remember to be respectful of all players. This is a game that is meant to be enjoyed together. Bullying, discrimination, harassment, etc. does not create a welcoming community and gives Pokémon GO players a bad reputation that is very difficult to overcome. Don't do it.
  • Just as in the world of Pokémon and all of the Pokémon games, being a Gym Leader or defending a Gym is a responsibility! A Gym Leader is not an overpowering, unapproachable brute. Remember that in the Pokémon games, a Gym Leader is expected to eventually lose. Their core purpose is to help a player progress, and to give out Badges upon a loss. Gym Leaders take their losses with grace and dignity.
  • New players join the game every day and are not always able to understand the battle mechanics. If a Trainer challenges your team's Gym while you are present and asks you questions about how to play, don't ignore them! Help them, and let them experience the thrill of challenging and even defeating a Gym.

When a Gym changes hands

  • If a Gym is conquered while you are there, remind the new leader that they should claim their Gym Defense reward of Stardust and Pokécoins right away, in case someone defeats the now-weakened Gym.
  • Don't hang around a Gym that is being taken and then rush in to claim it without participating in the battle. It's not fair to the players who had to battle the Gym to not get to benefit from it.
  • When you claim a new Gym consider training there for a bit to raise its Prestige level. This will allow other members of your team to quickly place other Pokémon in the Gym without having to defeat your strongest Pokémon and leveling Prestige themselves.

Current bugs encountered in Gyms

Currently it has been reported by a number of Trainers that Gym battles can experience a number of issues that will result in the battle being inconclusive. Niantic has already stated that they are working on the problem and hopefully all bugs will sorted out quickly. We here at Bulbagarden have encountered some of these issues ourselves and have a couple tips that might help ease the frustration.

The most common bug occurs at the beginning of Gym battles. Sometimes, when the word "GO!" appears at the start of a match the battle will reset itself back to the main Gym screen. This sequence will continue in a never ending loop so long as the Trainer continues to attempt to challenge the Gym. While there is again no official explanation for this glitch we have personally experienced it most often when there are multiple users interacting with the same Gym. We suggest closing and reloading Pokémon GO as soon as you experience the glitch. Once you have returned to the overworld screen, begin walking away from the Gym until it returns to its collapsed tower form. Approach the Gym and attempt the battle again. We cannot guarantee 100% success with this method, but positive results have been repeatedly observed.

It should be noted that Gyms are currently more stable during non-peak hours of play. If you are able and willing, consider challenging Gyms before going to bed for the night. Please remember to always take safety measures when venturing out after dark. For more information on safety measures, please check the Safety Guide.

  This article is part of Project Walkthroughs, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive step-by-step guides on each Pokémon game.