In this section, we're going to explain the best methods to maximise your Pokémon's potential. Before you continue, if you're new to Pokémon, we strongly recommend reading our previous section first. Otherwise, if you think you know your stuff, please carry on!
What Makes a Pokémon?
Just to make sure we're all on the same wavelength, these are the key things are define a particular Pokémon:
Nature: This provides a significant 10% boost to one of their stats.
IVs: When a Pokémon is Level 100, having max IVs in a stat (compared to 0 IVs) results in a 31 point increase.
EVs: When a Pokémon is Level 100, having max EVs in a stat results in a 63 point increase.
Ability: Depending on the Pokémon, the Ability they have can greatly influence their performance.
Moves: Similar to their Ability, the moves learned by a Pokémon can also affect how well they fare against opponents.
Therefore, in order for your Pokémon to be the very best(TM), they must have the best IVs and EVs, plus a Nature, Ability and moves that are best suited for them. Pretty logical, right?
Creating a Killer Pokémon
Traditionally, the primary method of engineering a Pokémon with the traits that you want is via Pokémon breeding. This is still applicable in Sword and Shield and, you'll be glad to know, it's easier than it's ever been.
However, thanks to recent Quality of Life changes, breeding is not the only method. The other method is by catching Pokémon in Max Raid Battles. Then supplement the Pokémon with Hyper Training and Mints.
Which method you choose depends on the Pokémon and your available resources. Also, the methods are not mutually exclusive. If you want to breed Hidden Abilities, you'll probably need to raid. Also, you can supplement Pokémon you've bred.
Here are some guidelines to help you:
If you're lacking BP to purchase Mints, or you're lacking Bottle Caps (or the BP to buy them) OR you want to conserve resources, you should probably breed.
If you want the Pokémon to Gigantamax, you must catch it via Max Raid Battles and use Mints/Bottle Caps. Because there's no way to pass down Gigantamax via breeding.
If the Pokémon is Legendary or a species that cannot breed OR it's shiny, you'll have to use Mints/Bottle Caps, since breeding is not an option.
Regardless of which method you go with, the actual training part (leveling up and acquiring EVs) is the same. Although, in a similar manner, there are multiple ways to go about it. But we'll discuss all of that when we get there!