“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology…”
Those words were uttered as part of the opening sequence of the 1970s television series “The Six Million Dollar Man,” during which technology spares a severely
injured astronaut (Steve Austin, played by actor Lee Majors) and rebuilds him into a superhuman specimen. Technology might also build a hockey player into a “better, stronger, faster” competitor.
That’s the belief and the mission of the staff at High Performance Hockey Development, which opened in Western New York last year and has quickly grown into a much
sought after hockey training tool for players young to adult.
“HPHD teaches the basic skills and individual tactics and players receive the attention and the time that allows them to competently execute the skills and
apply them directly to the game situation,” said HPHD’s Steve Thomson.
HPHD opened its first location inside Holiday Twin Rinks in Cheektowaga and later opened a facility in New Era Park in Hamburg.
When WNY Hockey Report contacted Steve Thomson to find out more about the program, booking an interview time was tricky at first. That’s because business has been very good at
“Players come to us all year round,” said Thomson. “They know this is how you get consistent professional training.”
HPHD trains hockey players by utilizing a series of high-tech equipment that helps the trainer and player analyze his or her skating, shooting and puckhandling
Walk into HPHD’s center inside Holiday Rinks and the first piece of equipment visitors will notice is a large treadmill which features synthetic “ice.” After a player is safely harnessed, the
continuous loop of plastic ice rolls and the player is instructed to begin skating as he or she would on a normal ice surface.
“We basically are using state-of-the-art technology to train the players, along with the knowledge of sports science, to help give the players an edge,” said
Thomson. “With the treadmill, they can skate and we can make changes to their stride to get the most efficient stride on the fly. The players get the chance to see themselves
instantly with feedback from the coaches and the equipment.”
Improving the skating stride is one of three areas approached by the staff. Another popular tool inside the center is the RapidShot, a fully enclosed booth where trainees step inside, still in their skates, and prepare to work on the quick reception and shooting of pucks.
“It passes pucks to you, and you can then shoot at a predetermined pattern of targets,” said Thomson. “It measures the speed, the accuracy and the reaction
time of the shooter. The other good part about the shooting lane is that we can actually do small-space skating skills and goaltending instruction on the exact same surface.”
Thomson went on to describe the third high-tech tool available to students, known as RapidHands.
“With the RapidHands technology, what that does is helps to increase forearm flexibility and muscle endurance, at the same time working hand-eye
coordination,” he said. “It’s kind of like a video game for stickhandling. The players try to better their score by getting the sensor puck over the laser dot, and it’s pretty competitive with
the players. They work on that every day they come in.”
Thomson suggested that HPHD might serve as an ideal training supplement to the on-ice instruction coaches are giving to their teams.
But what about the cost? Some families might be budget minded in what’s already the very expensive sport of hockey. Thomson tells WNY Hockey Report
that a session at HPHD costs about the same as renting the ice, but with professional coaching and individual or small group attention included in the
“They can get professional instruction in a small group setting, like six players, for as low as $12 a class,” said Thomson.
Parents or individuals can find out more information, including pricing options, by calling 393-3663 or visiting www.hphd.us.
In addition, HPHD was planning to host complimentary sessions on November 5, 2011 as part of USA Hockey’s “Try Hockey Free Day.”