Title screen of Pokemon ShieldSource: iMore

So, you've finished Pokémon Sword and Shield and are wondering if there are any other Pokémon-related challenges you can tackle instead of letting the game collect dust. Perhaps you're looking into competitive battling, and are wondering how to get started building a powerful team to tackle opponents beyond the story-only NPCs. If that's what's catching your eye, then you need to learn how to EV train your Pokémon first.

What is EV training?

Snorlax stat page, Pokemon Sword and ShieldSource: iMore

EV stands for "effort values," which are a sort of secondary stat in the Pokémon games that affects the rate at which a Pokémon's visible stats (Attack, Defense, and so forth) grow when they level up. If you're just playing through the story of the game and not paying attention, you'll probably never need to consider EVs. But if you're trying to build a competitive team, they'll quickly become important.

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That's because if you're working toward the most powerful team possible, you want to make sure that your Pokémon have the best stats they can. If you're trying to raise a Pokémon to be able to take a lot of hits, for instance, you don't want to use one whose Defense or Special Defense is growing incredibly slowly. By picking the right Pokémon and then EV training it for the stats you want, you'll get a Pokémon with maximized potential.

Why do I need to EV train my Pokémon?

Battle Tower, Pokemon Sword and ShieldSource: iMore

If you're not planning on battling online or in the Battle Tower in the post-game, you absolutely don't need to. It's plenty sufficient for the game's story and current max raid battles to rely on type advantages and high-level Pokémon to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

However, if you're interested in fighting in the Battle Tower and want to use your own team (as opposed to a rental team), or if you want to fight competitively with others online, you'll want a team that can stand up to other trainers who are maximizing their Pokémon's potential. That's where EV training comes in. If you're not EV training, you'll be at a serious disadvantage.

How do EVs work?

Pokemon Sword and Shield Centiskorch stat pageSource: iMore

Every Pokémon can have a maximum of 510 EVs -- with four EVs equaling a single stat point raise -- and they start at 0 when you first hatch or capture them. There are various ways to add EVs to a Pokémon, and one particular failsafe if you need to remove EVs.

You can track a Pokémon's EVs on its stats page. Press X on that page to see a hexagon with all six stats on the corners and a yellow fill-in indicating which EVs a Pokémon has. The color will move closer toward the corner of a stat as EVs increase and will sparkle when an EV is maxed out. Because you can have 510 EVs total, you can max out the EVs of two stats with a couple of points left over.

How do I raise my Pokémon's EVs?

Pokemon Sword and Shield BP shopSource: iMore

There are several ways to raise EVs in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Fighting other Pokémon

Every time your Pokémon defeats another Pokémon, they will gain 1-3 EVs in a particular stat. That stat is determined by the type of Pokémon is defeated. For instance, defeating a Skwovet will always give HP EVs. For specific stats, here are some common Pokémon you can hunt for:

  • HP: Skwovet, Noctowl
  • Attack: Timburr, Chewtle
  • Defense: Rolycoly
  • Special Attack: Vanillite, Gastly, Oddish
  • Special Defense: Blipbug, Duskull, Gossifleur
  • Speed: Rookiedee, Galarian Zigzagoon

You'll get EVs regardless of whether you're fighting a wild or trained Pokémon, so if you're trying to EV train, make sure you're not sending the EV trainee out into battles you don't want it in.

Vitamins

You can buy Vitamins with PokeDollars (10,000 apiece!) at the Pokémon Center in Wyndon or from an NPC in the Hammerlocke Pokémon Center who sells them for Battle Points (obtained at the Battle Tower). Though pricey, a single vitamin gives a free 10 EVs in the indicated stat:

  • HP: HP Up
  • Attack: Protein
  • Defense: Iron
  • Special Attack: Calcium
  • Special Defense: Zinc
  • Speed: Carbos

Wings

Wings, like Vitamins, increase EVs on use. Unlike Vitamins, they're not purchasable -- you can only find them on the bridges in the world outside Hulbury and Motostoke. They respawn every day, so if you pick them all up one day, new ones will spawn the next. Also, unlike Vitamins, Wings increase an EV by only one.

  • HP: Health Wing
  • Attack: Muscle Wing
  • Defense: Resist Wing
  • Special Attack: Genius Wing
  • Special Defense: Clever Wing
  • Speed: Swift Wing

Poke Jobs

Once you beat the fourth Gym, you'll notice some new Poke Jobs appear called Seminars, from Hammerlocke University. These Seminars will raise the EV of the indicated stat (HP seminar will raise HP EVs) by an amount depending on how long they are at the job.

  • A little while (1 hour) - 4 EVs
  • Very short (2 hours) - 8 EVs
  • Short (3 hours) - 12 EVs
  • Long (4 hours) - 16 EVs
  • Very Long (8 hours) - 32 EVs
  • Half Day (12 hours) - 48 EVs
  • Whole Day (24 hours) - 96 EVs

How do I lower my Pokémon's EVs?

Pokemon Sword and Shield berry inventorySource: iMore

If you mess up and need to lower an EV you didn't mean to train, there's one way to do that. Pokémon Sword and Shield have certain berries that will lower certain EVs by 10 per berry, and increase your Pokémon's happiness as a bonus.

  • HP: Pomeg Berry
  • Attack: Kelpsey Berry
  • Defense: Qualot Berry
  • Special Attack: Hondew Berry
  • Special Defense: Grepa Berry
  • Speed: Tamato Berry

How can I EV train Pokémon more efficiently?

Pokemon Sword and Shield, PokerusSource: iMore

If some of this sounds tedious, it certainly can be. Fortunately, there are some items and other circumstances that can help speed up your EV training a bit:

Start with a good Pokémon

Don't just EV train any ol' Pokémon. You'll want to do some planning ahead of time to make sure whichever Pokémon you're working with has good IVs too and will be a viable fighter in the team you eventually want to build. Building a competitive battle team is a whole other guide, but starting with high IVs and playing to a Pokémon's specific strengths, types, and moves are key.

EV boosting items

Certain held items will change the amount of EV points a Pokémon gains from battling or Poke Jobs (not from vitamins). These EV boosters can be purchased from an NPC in the Hammerlocke Pokémon Center, and cost Battle Points obtained from the Battle Tower.

Each item adds 8 EVs in its indicated stat every time the Pokémon holding it either defeats another Pokémon or completes a Poke Job:

  • HP: Power Weight
  • Attack: Power Bracer
  • Defense: Power Belt
  • Special Attack: Power Lens
  • Special Defense: Power Band
  • Speed: Power Anklet

Macho Brace

Also available for purchase at the Hammerlocke Pokémon Center is an item called the Macho Brace. This held item cuts a Pokémon's speed in half, but in return will double the EV point gain from battling and Poke Jobs. This isn't as efficient as the items above if you're going to battle for EVs since double 1-3 EV points are only 2-6 total, and you can just add 8 points with the other items. However, if you're taking a more passive approach and going for Poke Jobs, spending an entire day on a seminar with a Macho Brace equipped will net you 252 EVs -- the max amount possible for a stat.

Pokerus

The Pokerus is a strange "disease" that Pokémon can contract by battling another infected wild Pokémon. These Pokémon are extremely rare, and there's no way to know if you've encountered one until your Pokémon has the virus, so there's no way to try and farm specifically for Pokerus.

You'll know a Pokémon has Pokerus when Nurse Joy at the Pokémon Center notifies you while healing your Pokémon that one's been infected. You can also see a purple icon on an infected Pokemon's summary page indicating its status. The Pokémon will keep the Pokerus for a few days and will spread it to other Pokémon in the party. If you deposit a Pokémon in a PC box, it will "freeze" it indefinitely with the disease, which can be helpful in passing it to more Pokémon or keeping it active in your team for as long as possible.

Pokerus is entirely harmless. In fact, it's beneficial for EV training, as it doubles the amount of EV points received from battling or seminars, just like a Macho Brace. And it can be paired with the Macho Brace, doubling the doubling of EV point gain. Keep in mind that since 252 EV points are the maximum a Pokémon can get, though, it's not helpful to equip a Macho Brace on a Pokerus-infected Pokémon and send it to a whole-day seminar. A half-day will max it out in a stat and still leave you with time to pursue another stat the rest of the day.

Any questions?

EV training can take some time, but with a bit of work, the right Pokémon, and the right items, you can create a full team of six powerful battling machines. Let us know in the comments below if you have any further questions about EV training your Pokémon!

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