Pokemon GO Starter Guide for New Trainers

Starter Guide for New Trainers

Three Part Guide

Hello New Trainer!


This guide will not assume anything about your prior experience with Pokemon GO or the Pokemon franchise. We want this tutorial to help anyone who has a compatible phone and a desire to play one of the most popular mobile phone apps around the world.

We’ll talk about getting started, catching Pokemon, trainer levels, items, gyms & raids, and how to have the most fun playing the game.

Niantic Official Tutorial

Before we get started, you should know that Pokémon GO is made by the company Niantic, and their support page has a bunch of great information for new trainers.

After you read up on the basics of how to play, be sure to check out the above tips!

Getting Started


To start the game, you must first register using the Pokemon Trainer Club (PTC) service or a Google account. Your PTC account must be validated via email or you will be unable to access it after 48 hours. We recommend using a Google account, as PTC accounts are susceptible to being affected by server outages.

After meeting Professor Willow for the first time and catching your first Pokemon (you can start with Pikachu), you can enjoy the Pokemon GO experience! Well, a little bit of it. To have it all, you have to get to level 5. And to do that, you’ll have to catch Pokemon.

Catching Pokemon


You’re given a short tutorial in-game that gets you your first Pokemon. After that, you’re on your own! So what do you need to know?

Some Pokemon are Hard to Catch

  • Pokemon of a higher CP or rarer Pokemon will often break out of their Poke Ball. When they do, they have a chance to run or you can throw another ball.

  • Some Pokemon will change position or attack, so be patient! Throw your ball right after they stop moving to be reliable

There are Many Ways to Increase Your Catch Success Rate

  • Upgrade catch medals through catching Pokemon of a certain type

  • Aim for curveballs and the inner catch circle for extra experience and success

Wait to Power Up Your Pokemon!

  • Find a Pokemon with naturally high CP and good IVs

  • If you wait until level 30 you can catch Pokemon naturally at a CP relevant for gyms and raids

Use Berries for Bonuses

  • Pinap Berries increase candy earned, Razz and Golden Razz increase catch success, Nanab keeps the Pokemon from moving around

Use Your Radar

  • The bottom right corner of your screen shows nearby Pokemon

  • Tap on them to locate the PokeStop they are near

Locate Nearby Nests to Look For Specific Pokemon Species

  • If you find a “nest” (often at parks), there will be many of the same Pokemon species spawning in one place

  • Nests rotate every 2 weeks, with some exceptions

You can also acquire Pokemon by hatching eggs!

  • You’ll have to walk either 2 km, 5 km, or 10 km to hatch one egg with an Incubator

  • The game gives you one free orange Incubator with unlimited uses

    • You have to pay for extra, limited use blue Incubators

  • Only certain Pokemon are hatchable at a time, depending on when you acquired the egg

Once you catch a lot of a certain Pokemon, you can evolve them! Only some Pokemon can evolve, and it requires a lot of candy to do so.

Gaining Candy is fairly simple:

Pokemon Give at Least 3 Candy per Catch

  • You can usually get more if you catch an evolved Pokemon

  • You can increase the amount by using a Pinap Berry

Choosing a Buddy Pokemon Will Grant You a Candy for an Amount of Distance Walked

  • Some Pokemon’s distance required is shorter than others

“Transferring” Pokemon from Your Box Will Give You One Candy per Pokemon

  • You can transfer a bunch of Pokemon at once by tapping and holding the Pokemon you want to transfer, then tapping any others.

PokeStops, Items, and Leveling Up


After you finish off the last of the Poke Balls given to you by Professor Willow, getting more is as simple as finding a PokeStop. There are tons of PokeStops, concentrated in urban and suburban areas, that will let you replenish your item stock. Tapping on a PokeStop and spinning the disc will grant you 3-5 items.

The items you’ll get will vary as you level up your account. Once you hit level 30, you’ll have unlocked all the items. You can find a list of the unlocks here.


Here are some item tips:

  • Manage your bag space based on what you do in-game: if you battle often, keep more healing items; if you prefer to catch Pokemon, keep more balls and berries

    • Bag space is available via premium currency

  • Some premium items (Incense, Lucky Eggs, Incubators, etc.) are level up rewards at certain levels

    • You can hold on to these items for special events to maximize their value

Gaining these items when you level up is nice, but your trainer level is what’s important. Your Pokemon’s potential power will increase as you gain experience. Leveling up is fairly easy until you hit level 20. After that, the amount of experience you need per level spikes.

Gyms, Raids, and Battling

Once you have caught enough Pokemon to reach level 5, you can choose between joining Team Valor, Mystic, or Instinct, at which point you’ll gain access to Gyms. Gyms are the only way to receive Pokecoins without spending money, so using them will greatly benefit you!


Gyms can hold six Pokemon of the same team. Once placed there, the Pokemon gain a certain amount of “motivation”, represented by a heart icon above their head. A Pokemon’s CP decreases as motivation decreases, which happens over time or after a battle. Once the motivation for a Pokemon reaches 0 and the Pokemon loses a battle, they’re removed from the Gym.

Until you hit level 25, you shouldn’t worry too much about Gym offense. Taking down Gyms can be very challenging until you have a solid team of 6 healthy, high-CP Pokemon. Also, battling Gyms will lower your Pokemon’s HP, which costs items to replenish. These items can be scarce if you want to do a lot of battling. If you see a Gym with some Pokemon with very low CP, you can give it a shot. Ultimately, what matters is placing the Pokemon in a Gym and remembering to feed it berries.


Here’s how it works:

  • Find a Gym that is on your team with a free slot, or empty.

    • If the gym is owned by an opposing team and all the Pokemon are at a low motivation level, you can try taking over the Gym

  • Place your Pokemon in the Gym

  • Periodically check on your Pokemon to replenish its motivation level with berries

    • You’ll gain a bit of XP and stardust (and you may even gain a candy of the same type as the Pokemon you feed!)

    • You can feed the Gym remotely

    • You can feed other trainers’ Pokemon of the same team

Once your Pokemon is knocked out of the Gym, that Pokemon may return with Pokecoins. Pokecoins are earned at a rate of 1 every 10 minutes, and you can get up to 50 per day.

Sometimes at a Gym you’ll see either an egg or a giant Pokemon with a timer above its head. That means a raid is taking or will take place. Raids are available after level 5 and allow you to fight a rare, high-CP Pokemon with your fellow trainers! Raids also grant exclusive items such as TMs that let you change your moves, Golden Razz Berries to bolster catch rate, and Rare Candies that can act as any species’s candy.


Only a certain set of Pokemon are available at a time. Raids come in tiers. Tier 1 raids contain weaker Pokemon and grant fewer rewards.

Some advice for newbies raids:

  • Try to arrive at a raid at least 10 minutes beforehand to coordinate

  • Use your best Pokemon and try to do as much damage as possible

    • You’ll get better rewards and more chances to catch that Pokemon

  • Be nice to your fellow raiders! You’ll probably see them again.

Now, when you enter a Gym or encounter a raid, you’ll have to battle. Battling against another Pokemon is very different from other Pokemon games. Your Pokemon has two moves. One move is performed by tapping on the screen, and using it charges up the second move. The second move is performed by tapping the button when it’s available. You can also dodge a Pokemon’s move by swiping to the left or right.


Battles in Pokemon GO are mechanically simple, but when you get into type effectiveness, perfect dodging, breakpoints, bulkpoints, and more, you’ll find there’s plenty of depth to it. Check out our various articles to learn more!

Having Fun


At the end of the day, Pokemon GO is here for your enjoyment. How you want to spend your time playing the game is up to you, but here are a few things you might want to do:

Find Other Players!

  • Pokemon GO has a huge wealth of players around the world, and making friends with them will help you hold gyms and complete raids

  • Use resources such as Facebook or Discord to coordinate meetups

Explore Safely!

  • Pokemon are everywhere (except geoblocked locations), so be sure to keep an eye on your radar to know where to go!

  • DO NOT play Pokemon GO while operating any kind of vehicle


  • A Pokemon GO Plus and a portable power bank could both help you play but are completely optional

  • In-game items don’t ever *need* to be bought with dollars if you go to Gyms