Ever since I posed this question I have been thinking of what helped and what hindered me from starting to learn what is now my favorite part of WOW. Thanks for all your great answers. I left WOW right after battle battles became a "thing" in WOW, returning just before the onset of the pandemic. My first few pvp battles were total wipe outs, as might be expected, so starting from there . . .
(+) ATTITUDE - for me this was the most important aspect in learning the game. I had to accept I was going to lose, lose, and lose some more but each match I lost was a learning opportunity. I enjoy challenges and love learning, so accepting that my learning curve was going to be long and steep was one of the most important elements I credit with helping to keep me engaged and willing to put in the time to gather essential information and apply it over and over
and over some more. Closely related was being willing to put in the time to research and read/watch some of the amazing resources available on line.
(+) FOUNDATION KNOWLEDGE - I wholeheartedly agree with everyone that suggested knowledge is essential to skill development. For me it works to consider "knowledge" related to pvp pet battling as "leveled": foundation; beginning; intermediate; and beyond. FOUNDATION included pet families, pet species, and the strengths and weaknesses of each family. I think knowledge of essential add-ons fit best here. I went for months before realizing that add-ons make a world of difference. At this stage pve was helpful to get a feel for how each battle pet functioned, as was watching the excellent youtube clips that are available.
(-)NOT SO HELPFUL at this point was thinking that if I had ALL the top battle pets I would gain some mastery of the game. I quickly acquired the top pets, before I learned about things like stacking abilities, synergy, and counters. Maybe this is the point that those who buy a few cheap, over-powered pets and run them in duos and trios might stop and evaluate their goals. Ironically, those who run duo and triple op pets might be missing the creative elegance of deeper theory.
(+) BEGINNING KNOWLEDGE - once I had a tiny clue about the complex diversity of the hundreds of available pets and how families/species related to others it seemed I was really able to benefit from the wealth of knowledge this amazing community has made available online. There are so many well done videos (looking at you rosqo, disco doggy, and others) web pages, and discussions to deepen your knowledge. For me, this was the point I was able to start having occasional success in building teams, and even winning from time to time
I deeply appreciate everyone's generosity in sharing their skill and knowledge, this supports new players in learning the game.
(*) INTERMEDIATE - HA! On some days I would say I am starting to play at this level, some like about 2 out of 10 lol. Right now playing, watching, and reading feel like they are essential for continuing to deepen my pvp experience.
There are so many online resources, I am only going to post a link to the very useful "Guide to WOW Pet Battles" featured on this site https://www.warcraftpets.com/wow-pet-battles/
I truly appreciate the depth of knowledge in this community and the generous willingness of so many who take the time to share with us newbies. A special note ~ Gráinne, I try to read everything you write, thank you so much for your gracious and patient mentoring of all us noobs over the years . . . here is a great thread from a few years ago viewtopic.php?t=17070