You’ve tossed a few PokéBalls, caught a few Caterpies, and spun your way to a few items at the PokéStop, but it’s time to take things to the next level. These tips and tricks will help you go from novice trainer to unbeatable gym leader faster than you can spit out the PokéRap.

The PokéBall icon at the bottom of your screen is used to access most of the in-game menus, like your Pokédex, Items, captured pokémon, and the Shop. You can tap the PokéBall icon and navigate to these menus, or you can look like a pro and get to them with a single swipe. Swipe the PokéBall left to instantly access the Pokémon menu, swipe right to go right into your items, and swipe up to access the shop.

When a wild pokémon pops up out of the bushes, look at the tiny rings surrounding it. If the rings are white, the pokémon was there naturally. If the rings are a purple-y pink color, it showed up because of a nearby lure module. If the rings are replaced by a pink cloud circling the pokémon, that means it was attracted to your Incense item and only you can see it.

Noticing the different rings will help you develop a feel for finding more pokémon in your area, and it’s nice for when you’re playing with friends. You’ll know not to shout “Squirtle!” when you see the incense ring and start an unnecessary stampede.

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.

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