Made-in-Canada technology helping Olympic athletes push limits of performance

Use of Canadian-made technology in sport is booming and it's helping push the frontiers of athletic performance

Elite athletes in Canada and around the world are using PUSH's product

Athletes training with the Canada-made PUSH band can track the velocity of their movements. (CBC)

When you watch international athletes perform amazing feats at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang this month, there's a good chance that many of them have been using groundbreaking Canadian technology to help them push their limits. 

PUSH, a Toronto sports technology company, has developed a device that tracks the power of an athlete's movements to complement training methods already used in the elite sports world, called velocity-based training (VBT). 

The company created an efficient way to track the velocity of an athlete's movements using a sensor attached to an armband. The hardware is made in Mississauga, Ont. and in Quebec. A corresponding app reads the data instantaneously so coaches can give feedback.

PUSH has garnered an impressive list of clients who train with the band, including multiple NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball teams. Several Olympic teams use the band as well, including the bobsleigh teams from the Netherlands and Australia, and the Dutch speedskating team.

The PUSH band has a corresponding app that tracks the data it collects. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

"Athletes at a higher level aren't just trying to move a certain amount of weight," said Mike Dawson, director of business and partnerships at PUSH. "They want to move weight quickly or explosively. That transpires to better performance on the field or on the ice."

The technology works because athletes are naturally competitive, something Ray LeBlanc, owner and director of S.P.E.E.D Hockey Development, sees first hand when he's coaching. 

Tim Theocharidis, 19, aspires to be a professional hockey player. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

"There's a different level of motivation because they can see numbers," said LeBlanc. "Sometimes we set up a leaderboard with who's able to move with the most velocity, who's able to create the most power. Weight is important but velocity adds another dimension." 

Athletes themselves are working harder, too. Lindsay Bochna, a Grade 10 hockey player on the Etobicoke Junior Dolphins team, said she's noticed a difference in her performance. 

"I hope to make it into the States for college or university and definitely play on Canada's Olympic team," she said. "It's more work but I definitely like it more. It pushes me."