Remember when you were a kid playing Pokémon and you always questioned why gym leaders stuck to a specific type? Surely it made them weaker? Well, that may be so, but it makes them weaker in the same way that a long-range sniper is less skilled than someone who can make Michelin-star food whilst also being a flourishing assassin. Different types warrant different skills and handling, so it makes sense for most to specialise in one. Obviously, temperament and training methods will vary from Pokémon to Pokémon depending on both its species and its own personality, but generalisations can be made for each type.
Normal is probably considered the easiest type to train, though that statement doesn’t always ring true (there’s a big difference between battling with a furret and a slaking, if you get what I mean). Generally, however, normal types will be selected for young, beginner trainers to get them used to the process of giving commands and training without resistance, before allowing them to progress onto the slightly more skittish or defiant types such as electric and dark.
Fire types don’t have bad temperament, but they require a trainer who is willing to take them out onto an isolated area in order to battle with them safely (though most gyms probably provide suitable training grounds for all types). They can be highly energised, so their trainer needs to be active and resilient, but generally don’t respond well to hard, strict commands; they are willing to accept a trainer as their master, but want to be treated like friends.
As some water types are incapable of surfacing, this makes a portion of them difficult to train with. Nonetheless, those incapable of breathing above water can still be utilised; most trainers will teach these Pokémon to respond to gesture-based signals rather than audible commands, as this will allow them to communicate without sound (this technique, however, is probably used by many skilled trainers in order to avoid alerting the opponent to their move choice). Still, I imagine that the most popular water choices are those that can breathe both above and below water (vaporeon, quagsire, dewgong, gyarados etc.), as they can battle more effectively with Pokémon of other types.
One of the calmest types available. Harsh commands are not needed, but rather encouragement and persuasion. I feel that Pokémon belonging to this type may be somewhat slow to progress at first, taking a fair amount of time to become strong, but the moment they break that barrier they become a force to be reckoned with. So, in short, grass training takes patience, just as waiting for the growth of crops does.
Unsurprisingly, electric types are the most energetic. Their speed needs to be honed and their pent-up energy released; electric type trainers have to exercise their Pokémon frequently as well as train them, though the two activities often coincide. Some Pokémon of this type can possess short attention spans, but providing that their training is engaging and varied they are generally eager to cooperate.
Psychic trainers have to be prepared to forge very deep and emotional bonds with their Pokémon, as psychic types are incredibly sensitive to their owner’s moods and often react to them accordingly. Gardevoir, for example, will often pick up on emotions and mimic them, and Pokémon such as spoink and reuniclus probably attempt to cheer their trainers when they are sad. Psychic Pokémon are, on average, more intelligent than members of other types, which makes them highly responsive to training but also more questioning of the methods used. They are also rather sensitive to harsh commands and criticism, but are deeply loyal and trusting. They will have faith in their trainers even when requested to do acts they are unsure of, and so will flourish when used by those who know how to bring out the best in them.
Dark types, by contrast, need an incredibly firm hand. If they get their own way too frequently, they will become defiant, mischievous and unresponsive to commands; their place in the pecking order must be established swiftly when obtained. Once the master-Pokémon relationship is enforced, they will gain respect for their trainer and bond with them. Due to this relationship, they tend not to improvise in battle, not unless their trainer gives them a framework within which they can do so, as they find it difficult to distinguish between spontaneity and defiance. They are so duly trained to be obedient that they become reluctant to act of their own accord, but this mentality can be changed over time. Once a dark type chooses to follow only your commands, you know that it respects you, and so from then on you can train it to be more independent. It’s all about building up the layers.
Ghost types reside, training-wise, at some point on the spectrum between dark and psychic. Whilst they don’t need as strict dictation as the former, they aren’t as sensitive as the latter. Mischievous ghost types such as gengar and misdreavus require the same kind of treatment that one would give to naughty children, whereas calmer ones such as froslass, mismagius and gourgeist warrant gentler instruction. Either way, ghost types are sneaky in battle and, unlike dark Pokémon, will often take the initiative and act beyond their trainer’s commands. This improvisation is a trait often associated with psychic Pokémon; however, ghost types are more likely to be spontaneous in a way that their trainers dislike. Psychic types generally make better judgements of their trainers’ overall strategies in battle, whereas ghost Pokémon tend to make decisions based on their immediate consequences. Nevertheless, some of these peculiar, unprecedented actions have been known to win matches.
Flying type is the one faction of Pokémon for which a generalisation cannot really be made, as members of this type often belong primarily to another. However, their training methods are still very defined; a flying trainer must have a huge sense of spacial awareness, and must be able to tutor their Pokémon on how to carry out long commands (flying up and then diving down to attack) and respond to non-audible signals - if they are to attack from the air effectively, they will be out of earshot of their trainer.
In order to seriously train fighting types, the trainer has to be physically fit themselves; Pokémon of this type will bond better with those who train alongside them. They also rest fairly little and need frequent, organised training sessions, and do not respond well to irregularity. A psychic type would be comfortable to train intermittently, but a fighting one would dislike the lack of order. Moreover, they also benefit from repetitive training - executing a move over and over again, for example, until they are competent at it. Funnily enough, well-trained fighting types are some of the least hectic Pokémon in battle, as they perform best when their skills are honed individually and with precision; they are not brutishly forceful as many would believe.
Pokémon of this type are known to acquire skills quickly but lack the power that other types bear. As a general trend, many bugs (beedrill, butterfree, beautifly, vivillon) reach the pinnacle of their strength quickly and find it hard to build on that, so bug trainers have to focus on perfecting strategy to bring out the best in them. Where a dragon trainer can sometimes rely on power alone to win battle, bug trainers cannot. It’s all about detail - status conditions, stat boosts, slowly weakening the opponent before dealing a final blow. That isn’t to say that powerful bug types don’t exist - species like scizor and heracross are formidable opponents - but they generally lack the overwhelming force of other types. They are not, however, to be underestimated.
Rock types are known for their brawn rather than their brains. To bring out the best in them, trainers need to be patient and unruffled, adept at giving simple, direct commands. Rock Pokémon can be stubborn, but treating them with a firm hand is not advised. Whilst dark types may refuse to cooperate to undermine their trainer’s authority, unresponsive rock types are usually just fed up, fatigued, or irritable with their own performance, so it is best to either comfort them or leave them alone. On the upside, rock types do not dislike repetitive training and have among the best muscle memory of any type. If an attack was tutored appropriately, they should remember it for the rest of their life, even if they go years without using it. This gives rock trainers a certain flexibility that makes up for their Pokémon’s inability to improvise.
Ground types bear similarities to rock types but are generally less rigid and more independent-minded. Ground trainers typically focus on overwhelming their opponents with strong, straightforward attacks, raising their Pokémon to hit hard and take hard hits. They aren’t the most challenging type to raise due to their docile nature, but there is a certain knack to finding the balance between offence and defence in ground types that a lot of trainers don’t have.
Poison is a type that goes in and out of fashion in the battle industry. Such types are far friendlier and more intelligent than they appear, willing to accept their place in the trainer-Pokémon hierarchy and respond to their master’s commands. They aren’t as free with improvisation as other types, but they have been known to make extra attempts to poison foes without being asked to - they think beyond their trainer’s commands without deviating too far from them. However, despite their many benefits, poison types just aren’t practical to own - some carry health risks, some are toxic to the touch, and most of them stink to high heaven.
Like flying types, steel Pokémon are difficult to generalise as so many belong to different types. A notable characteristic is that they can be unyielding and take time to form bonds with, but aside from that, there isn’t a great deal that makes them unique - most rock or ground trainers would have little difficulty raising steel Pokémon. A trainer’s decision to specialise in steel is likely to come from their appreciation of the type rather than their having a particular knack with it.
Ice is frequently referred to as a ‘quiet’ type, as ice Pokémon rarely respond well to brash commands and do best when trained one-on-one rather than in pairs or trios. They mostly require gentle, sensitive coaching if they are to warm to their trainers, which means that they sometimes flounder in high-pressure tournaments and cannot cope with the chaos of double battles. Some think that the fragility of the type in battle may be a consequence of insufficient domestication. At any rate, half-ice types seem better suited to a competitive climate.
Another favourite with children, fairy types have all the cooperation and friendliness of normal types but twice the power. Their attention spans can be somewhat lacking, but this flaw is often countered by determination; fairies are typically more eager to please their trainers than any other type. However, this eagerness robs them of the independence and instinct of psychics, as they are reluctant to do anything beyond their commands for fear of upsetting their trainer. Any successful improvisation must be positively reinforced if they are to have a degree of autonomy, but mistakes are never to be scolded. Fairy types are too sensitive to respond to criticism. Reward-based training is the most effective way to bring out their power.
This type is possibly the hardest of all to train, hence why dragon taming tends to run in families. To be an effective dragon trainer, one needs to find a balance between dominance and respect, as dragons take orders only from those who recognise their power without being intimidated by it. The most successful dragon specialists start young, with milder species like dratini and noibat, before building up to more defiant kinds. Raising a dragon from birth is the best way to generate the necessary mutual respect.
Some regard dragon taming as a lifestyle - an expensive one, at that. Aside from the skill needed to cope with such powerful beasts, the money required to buy, feed, house and train them is far greater than most can afford. Some aspiring trainers gain access to dragon types through scholarships or scouting, but often too late for them to specialise effectively. For now, it remains a type for the elite.