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Pokémon Go guide: Gyms, coins, and defenders

Place your Pokémon, feed them some berries, and earn some free coins

Pokémon Go: Gym Battle
Pokémon Go: Gym Battle
James Bareham/Polygon

Gyms are commonplace in the Pokémon Go world, and those tall structures do more than just host raids: They let you earn a handful of coins every day.

After hitting level five, players can access these massive structures on the world map. This is the key to earning free coins and raid passes, processes that we’ll explain in this Pokémon Go guide.

How do gyms work?

Gyms are team-based objectives that reward coins when your Pokémon is in them. They can hold up to six Pokémon at once, and the Pokémon must belong to trainers of whatever team currently controls the gym. (The color of the gym corresponds to the color of the three teams: red for Valor, blue for Mystic, and yellow for Instinct.)

If the gym is your color, you can plop in your Pokémon by hitting the button with the plus on it at the bottom right corner of the screen. If the gym is full and already has six Pokémon in it, you can’t place anything else in there. You can only place one Pokémon per gym.

If the gym isn’t your color, it’s time to battle. You will have to fight the Pokémon in the gym and lower their Motivation (the number with the little heart indicator above their heads) to zero. You don’t have to battle alone, though. You can take on gym Pokémon with friends and members of the non-owning teams to wipe out the gyms. Once all the Pokémon are gone, the gym will turn neutral and you can place your Pokémon in it to claim it.

How do I earn free coins from gyms?

If your Pokémon is in a gym, you can grab up to 50 coins per day. Your Pokémon will earn six coins per hour its in a gym, but you’ll only see those coins once your Pokémon gets defeated and returns home.

Even if you have multiple Pokémon in gyms, you won’t be able to earn more than 50 coins a day. We recommend putting your Pokémon in gyms that aren’t in extremely populated places, as this will help you rake in more coins. However, you don’t want to put your Pokémon in a gym in a completely desolate area, or else it’ll never get kicked out.

How does Motivation work?

Motivation decreases over time and correlates to the placed Pokémon’s CP (Combat Power). If you put a 2,500 Zangoose in the gym, it will have a cap of 2,500 Motivation. Immediately after being placed, the Pokémon will not have its maximum Motivation — it’ll start a smidgen lower.

As Motivation goes down, so does the Pokémon’s CP temporarily, making it easier to knock out of gyms. However, the Pokémon’s temporary CP will never go below 20% of its normal CP.

Pokémon in gyms continuously lose Motivation over time.

How do I keep my Pokémon in a gym?

You can feed it various berries to help increase its desire to defend the gym. Golden Razz Berries automatically restore Motivation to max.

You can even feed them berries remotely if you access the gym. Just tap on the Pokémon from the menu.

What are the best defenders for gyms?

The best Pokémon for gyms are ones with high defense. This means Blissey and Snorlax are some of the best tanks to plop in there, but you also don’t want a slew of normal-type Pokémon in one gym. Mix it up so it makes it harder for other trainers to defeat you and your allies quickly. According to Game Press, other good gym defenders include Metagross, Drifblim, Togekiss, and Milotic.

Legendary and Mythical Pokémon (with the exception of Meltan and Melmetal) cannot be placed in gyms.

Do gyms do anything else?

Gyms also host PokéStops. You can click a PokéStop icon when you tap the gym to spin the emblem at the top. You get a reward bonus if the gym matches your team when you spin it, too. Spinning a gym PokéStop also rewards a free raid pass every day (if you don’t have one already).

Gyms also host raids as indicated by a giant egg, and gyms of your color award raid bonuses.