I was wondering what tools of algebraic topology are usually used to show that some things have the same homotopy type? Hatcher doesn't really talk about this in his book even though he defines the concept on page 3. Of course we can compute the homology or homotopy groups of a space, but just showing that they agree is not enough as far as I know.
For example, knowing that the Poincare conjecture is true, we know that every closed simply-connected 3-manifold is the 3-sphere. It follows that they must have the same homotopy type. Is this any easier to prove than Poincare itself? If so how? The reason I picked this example is that I know they are homotopy equivalent and I don't know an obvious map between the spaces.
EDIT: Dylan actually gave what's needed to finish off a proof. The map given by the generator of $\pi_3$ can easily be checked to induce isomorphisms on all homology groups. Now replace the $3$-manifold $M$ by a $2$-connected CW-model $Z$ by CW-approximation. Functoriality of CW-models then induces a map $f:S^3\to Z$ which induces isomorphisms on homology. The standard argument that replaces $Z$ by the mapping cylinder of $f$ and then applies Hurewicz on $H_n(M_f,S^3)$ shows that $\pi_n(M_f,S^3)=0$ for all $n$ on which implies that $M_f$ deformation retracts onto $S^3$ and they are homotopy equivalent. This gives the following chain of homotopy equivalences
$$S^3\simeq M_f\simeq Z\simeq M$$
so it follows that $M$ and $S^3$ has the same homotopy type.