Everything you need to know about Gyms in Pokemon Sword and Shield

Pikachu Dynamax in Pokemon Sword and Shield
Pikachu Dynamax in Pokemon Sword and Shield (Image credit: Game Freak)

Pokemon Sword and Shield are on their way, and if you've been keeping up with the Pokemon games recently, you might be wondering if Gyms will be making a comeback after their brief absence during our time in last generation's Alola region. It turns out, they are returning, though with some notable differences to how they've been handled in the past.

If you're curious about Pokemon Gyms and their function in Pokemon Sword and Shield, here's everything we know about them so far:

What are Gyms?

In the Pokemon series, Gyms are locations around the region where you'll test your Pokemon battling skills against an especially powerful Pokemon trainer, or Gym Leader. Gyms are usually devoted to a single type of Pokemon (Grass, Water, Fire, etc) and often (but not always) include puzzles, obstacle courses, and other less-powerful trainers to defeat before you are allowed to challenge the Gym Leader.

Defeating the Gym Leader is mandatory to progress the story, and almost every region of the Pokemon universe has eight Gyms to challenge before you can face the ultimate test at the Pokemon League. Upon winning at a Gym, you'll receive a Gym Badge to mark your progress, and often a special Technical Machine (TM) to teach your Pokemon a new move.

What is different about Gyms in Pokemon Sword and Shield?

There seem to be some indications that Gyms in Pokemon Sword and Shield will be a bit different from those we've seen in past games. It makes sense if Game Freak is trying to change up the formula, as Pokemon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon didn't have Gyms at all - they had Trials instead!

Though we don't know specifics on differences yet, we can tell from trailers that Pokemon Gym Leader battles in Sword and Shield take place in enormous stadiums with crowds watching. There do still seem to be trainers to defeat before you can challenge the Gym Leaders, and Gyms still seem to be focused around a single Pokemon type.

We also know that because Gym Leader battles take place in Stadiums, it's possible to Dynamax your Pokemon within (and also possible for the Gym Leader to Dynamax theirs!). You also get to wear special attire, including choosing a number to wear on the back of your jersey while battling.

What is Dynamaxing?

Dynamaxing is a new mechanic added into Pokemon Sword and Shield that effectively makes your Pokemon gigantic temporarily, giving them stat boosts and changing their moveset temporarily. It lasts three turns and can only be done to one Pokemon once per battle.

Dynamaxing cannot be done in every battle - only in special battles in certain locations, including Stadiums where Gyms are held. Gym Leaders will also be able to Dynamax their Pokemon, so you'll want to carefully choose when and which Pokemon to Dynamax to combat them!

Who are the Gym Leaders we know so far?

The following Gym Leaders have been revealed for Pokemon Sword and Shield so far, with their type and known Pokemon listed:

  • Milo (Grass): Eldegoss
  • Nessa (Water): Drednaw
  • Sword Only - Bea (Fighting): Hitmontop
  • Shield Only - Allister (Ghost): Mimikyu
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