It might seem easy at first, but catching pokémon gets harder as you level up. You start running into stronger pokémon, and your once-massive stash of PokéBalls will start to dwindle if you don’t learn the ins and outs of the perfect throw. When you see a pokémon appear, tap it on your screen, then move to a spot where you’re safe and out of the way. Once you’ve started an encounter, the pokémon will stay on your screen until you either catch it or runs away because of too many failed attempts.
When the encounter starts, you’ll notice a white circle around it. That’s the target you have to hit for your PokéBall to work at all. Inside the white circle, however, is a constantly-shrinking, colored circle (more on that later) that tells you how difficult it will be to catch the pokémon. Your goal is to toss your PokéBall and hit the inside of the shrinking, colored circle. Doing so will grant you more experience points (XP) depending on the size of said circle:
- A “Nice!” toss happens when you get it inside the colored circle while it’s fairly large, and will grant you an additional 10 XP if you make the catch.
- A “Great!” toss happens when the colored circle is about half the size of the white circle, and will grant you an additional 50 XP.
- An “Excellent!” toss happens when the colored circle is very small, and will grant you an additional 100 XP.
Not only do good throws give you some extra XP, some resourceful redditors who have datamined the Pokémon Go app suggest good throws may also increase the chances of catching the pokémon. They also suggest throwing a curveball increases your chances as well, in addition to the 10 XP bonus it provides. To throw a curveball, you just hold your finger on the PokéBall, spin it around, then toss. If you’re having a hard time hitting the pokémon, turn off the AR so it stays still in one place. This also helps you save a ton of battery.
Those XP bonuses may not seem like much on their own, but they make a huge difference over time, especially if you have an item like the Lucky Egg activated, which doubles XP gained for 30 minutes. A good toss and Lucky Egg can turn an encounter with a common pokémon like Pidgey—which would normally only net you 100 XP—into a much more profitable catch. Not only would you get 200 XP for the catch, but an “Excellent!” toss and curveball bonus would add another 220 XP, making that little Pidgey worth 420 XP. It’s almost as much as the bonus for catching it for the first time.
As mentioned earlier, though, some pokémon are much harder to catch, and it all depends on the color of their shrinking circle. Red means very hard, orange means hard, yellow means moderate, and green means easy. For red, orange, and yellow pokémon, a few items will help ensure you make your catch. Razzberrys will lower the difficulty of catching a pokémon by one color, but they are only good for one attempt. If the pokémon breaks free, you’ll need to use another. Using GreatBalls or UltraBalls will increase your chances as well, but you have a much more limited supply, so save them for the really tough pokémon.