Pokémon Sword and Shield: Choosing held items in competitive play
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Choosing which item to have a Pokémon hold is an important part of competitive battling in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Items can improve stats, provide healing, and provide utility.

To give a Pokémon a held item, simply go to the desired item in the menu, select the item, then click “Give to a Pokémon”, and select who to give it to. Keep in mind that if the item is consumed in a competitive battle, the Pokémon will still be holding it afterward.

In competitive battles, a team cannot have more than one of any specific held item. This makes choosing which items to give to Pokémon even more difficult because certain Pokémon will benefit the most from the same held item as others. Here are some of the most popular items and who to give them to.

Held item display

Choice Items

All three Choice Items increase a stat by 50%. However, the Pokémon holding it may only use the first move selected in battle until it is swapped out.

Choice Scarf

This item increases a Pokémon’s Speed, making it extremely valuable for creatures who have high base Attack or Special Attack stats but need the Speed boost to move first. Gardevoir, Hydreigon, and Darmanitan make excellent use of this item.

Choice Band

Band increases the Attack stat, and it is best used by fast or bulky physical attackers who want to spam one move. Dracovish is an excellent example of a great Choice Band user, as it relies on dealing damage with Fishous Rend and wants to maximize its Attack stat.

Choice Specs

This item is the same as Choice Band except that it increases Special Attack. Special Dragapult, Rotom’s forms, and other fast or bulky Special attackers can hold this item to boost their damage.

While the Choice items are generally used to boost stats, they can also be used with the moves Trick or Switcheroo to trade it to the opposing Pokémon and lock them into the first move they selected. This is a solid strategy against creatures who will likely use a status move on their first turn.

Life Orb

Life Orb is one of the most popular items to give a Pokémon to increase its damage because it does not lock them into one move like the Choice items. It increases the damage of moves by 30% but takes 10% of the holder’s max HP each turn.

Pokémon who want to use moves like Protect or Swords Dance along with damage moves cannot afford to be locked into one move. These creatures should take a Life Orb to increase damage. Dragapult, Inteleon, and Mimikyu are common Life Orb users.


This item heals the Pokémon holding it for about 6.25% of their maximum HP at the end of each turn. It’s a great option for bulky Pokémon who will survive for multiple turns. Pokémon like Corviknight and Milotic benefit heavily from this extra healing.

Leftovers are also a great option for Pokémon who use Substitute, which cuts health to make a “substitute” with the same health that must be destroyed before the Pokémon can be attacked. The Pokémon can hide behind its substitute while healing with the Leftovers.

Focus Sash

Focus Sash functions the same as the Sturdy ability. If an attack would knock them out from full HP, the Pokémon holding it will survive with one HP. This makes it a great option for support creatures like Whimsicott and Indeedee, who want to ensure they survive at least one turn to get a key move off.

Focus Sash is also a good option for glass cannon Pokémon that deal high damage but are very frail, like Weavile and Excadrill. This item can be the difference between getting a move off and winning a battle and getting one-hit-KO’d and losing.


Berries are always popular because they provide healing and other various effects, though they are consumed after use. Here are the most popular berries.

Sitrus Berry

The Sitrus Berry will heal its holder by 25% of its maximum HP when the Pokémon drops below 50% HP. This makes it a great option on Pokémon who can survive a hit and use it to recover. Arcanine, Snorlax, and Hippowdon are good options for this berry. This is easily the most popular berry in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Damage-Reduction Berries

There are several berries in the game that will reduce the amount of damage taken from a specific super-effective attack. The Babiri Berry is one example of this, reducing damage taken from a super-effective Steel-type attack by half. These items are great choices for Pokémon who need survivability from a specific type, like Hatterene and Gastrodon.

Other Popular Items

  • Weakness Policy: Boosts damage when hit by a super-effective move. It works great on Rhyperior, Coalossal, and Tyranitar.
  • Assault Vest: This item increases Special Defense but prevents the use of status moves. Works well for Pokémon like Mudsdale and Ludicolo who can be vulnerable to special attacks.
  • Expert Belt: Deals bonus damage when using a super-effective move against an opponent. It’s good for Pokémon with a lot of coverage like Goodra.
  • Light Clay: Extends the duration of screens. This serves as the preferred item for Grimmsnarl and other screen setters.

Choosing which six items to give your Pokémon before jumping into competitive battles is important in Sword and Shield. Make sure to consider which items benefit the moves, stats, and abilities of their holders the most.