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Deals damage. After the user makes contact with the target, it immediately switches out. The player then selects and switches in a new Pokemon, who carries on the turn. Does not force the user to switch out if there are no more active Pokemon on the user's team, if Volt Switch KOes the target's last Pokemon, or if the target switched out using an Eject Button. If the move has no effect on the target Pokemon, then the secondary effect does not occur. If the foe uses Pursuit, then if the foe is faster, Pursuit deals normal damage, but if it is slower, Pursuit deals double damage. Volt Switch can be used to switch out of all trapping effects, including Ingrain, Mean Look, Shadow Tag, and Fire Spin.
In-game, if the user of Volt Switch KOes a trainer's Pokemon, then the next Pokemon sent in does not gain any experience points from that KO.
Volt Switch is part of a unique category of moves that after it does damage it will force the user out. Thus, it shouldn't be used as a main STAB option; thanks to the added effect its not a sweeping move. However, it serves an entirely different purpose: to gain you and your team offensive or defensive momentum in a battle. A large degree of prediction needs to be employed for this move to work to the fullest extent. If used at the same time that the opponent switches it will only work after the opponent's Pokemon is already out, so the user can act accordingly and bring a more favorable match-up. It's also worth noting that a Pokemon brought out by the Volt Switch will enter the battle unscathed should your opponent switch on the turn its used, or if the user of Volt Switch attacks after your opponent.
Choice-wielding Pokemon are some of the prominent users of Volt Switch, since they need to predict correctly a lot by nature, and so having an easy way out to a more appropriate teammate can help the team astronomically. Volt Switch is one of the main reasons why Rotom-W is one of the most dangerous Pokemon in the OU metagame and one of the most used Pokemon. It receives STAB on Volt Switch, and doesn't have to worry too much about Ground-types switching in to absorb the move due to its STAB Hydro Pump. With Volt Switch Rotom-W is constantly able to stay one step ahead of your opponent.
Volt Switch, together with U-turn, have become such a force on the metagame that whole teams are based around the moves, going by the term VoltTurn teams. The basic premise behind the teams is to have every member know one of the moves, which gives them a way to always have a safe switch out of the opponent in order to gain momentum. The whole time that the team spends switching, damage slowly but surely begins to build on the opponent, which can be increased ten-fold with the addition of entry hazards and sandstorm or hail damage.
U-turn is a physical Bug-type equivalent.