Never forget the lyrics to the Pokémon theme song: You teach me, and I’ll teach you. Today, I’m going to show you how to throw Pokéballs correctly in Nintendo and Niantic’s augmented reality app, Pokémon GO, available now on Android and iOS devices.
Fret not. It’s actually quite simple.
When you stumble upon Pokémon the first few times, your adrenaline might be pumping. It still does for me, especially when it’s a Pokémon I’ve been searching out. But the first step is the most important: Relax.
The little bugger isn’t going anywhere (until you try to catch ‘em, in which case they may run off). But in these few seconds, they’re there until you take your shot. Make it count.
2. Guesstimate distance
When you encounter a wild Pokémon, they will be several feet in front of you. It doesn’t matter if you walk closer: The Pokémon will always be some distance away, depending how far from them you were when they stepped into your line of vision. (If they’re right next to your avatar, they will appear much closer than if you were further away.)
The farther the Pokémon, the stronger your throw has to be.
3. Frame the Pokémon in the center of your camera, and keep a steady hand
No matter how big or small the Pokémon appears on your phone, center them in the middle of the screen. It makes it that much easier to aim when you throw the Pokéball.
After they’re centered, keep a steady hand. Don’t let your phone travel with your swipe; you’ll lose sight of the Pokémon if your phone travels, no matter how flawless your aim.
4. Take the shot
To throw the Pokéball correctly, first hold the Pokéball. You’ll start seeing a white circle around the Pokémon, and then a different colored circle inside it that grows smaller. What do the colors mean?
Green: The Pokémon is easy to catch.
Yellow: The Pokémon is a little harder to catch.
Red: The Pokémon will embarrass the hell out of you if you don’t throw a perfect strike.
While you hold the Pokéball, the circle grows smaller until it gets big again, repeating the process. The smaller the circle, the higher chance you have of catching the Pokémon. (If you do it close enough, you’ll get a “Nice!” on screen and be rewarded with bonus points.)
When the circle is small enough, swipe up gently or with slightly more force depending how far the Pokémon is standing. If they’re close, be gentle and swift. If they’re further away, you’ll have to throw a little more forcefully. But never swipe too hard.
5. Did you miss? Pick up the Pokéball!
If you miss your shot, quickly tap the Pokéball that falls to take it back. You’ll be given another chance without wasting the ball.
6. Be wary of attacking Pokémon!
I’ve lost more Pokéballs than I can count from this: Be wary when a Pokémon attacks. You won’t be harmed (I mean, they’re not even there), but throwing a Pokéball while they attack means they deflect the shot. Your ball will be wasted, and you have to live with the shame that a Pidgey just showed you who’s boss.
It’s okay to just hold on to the ball and wait until they’ve finished attacking before you swipe to catch.
Bonus: Curve the Pokéball
For extra points and a surefire way to catch whatever Pokémon you’re trying to nab, you can try to “curve” a Pokéball. The risk is as great as the reward: It’s hard to pull off, but if you do, it’s almost a guarantee that whatever Pokémon you’re aiming for will be yours.
To curve a Pokéball, draw a circle around the Pokéball. It will begin to swirl quickly — at the right moment, swipe up gently and the ball will curve and catch the Pokémon. Maybe. Again: It’s hard to do, and most people are still figuring out how to aim their phones correctly. But if you can nail the curve and everything else that comes with it, you’ll be a Pokémon master in no time.