Lessons. Setbacks. Victory.
Since the sport was first introduced to the UK in the 1980’s, Professional Ice-Hockey in the UK has seen an ever-growing following of loyal fans. In the arena of highly competitive sports, where the pucks fly at up to 110MPH, and victory rests on the razor’s edge of a few seconds, achieving longevity in this sport is by no means an easy feat. With a career that spans over 20 years, British Ice Hockey professional David Clarke has achieved just that. First starring for the Peterborough Pirates at the age of 15, the now 36 Team GB stalwart, has become the the Elite Ice Hockey league’s all-time top scorer, also recently winning a gold medal in Belfast, securing Team GB’s promotion to the Division 1A at the IIHF World Championships.
In conversation with the British athlete whose long history of athletic excellence stretches as far back as 1998, David shares five key lessons that have defined his success, his career and his game.
5 Lessons with David Clarke
Hockey is like anything- the sooner you jump in the deep end the sooner you learn to swim. For me, one the reasons I enjoy playing so much, and I think I’ve been relatively successful, is because I’m 100% committed to what I do. I don’t really do anything else on the side. My focus is on being a professional Ice-Hockey player. As soon as you start testing other waters and think about the possibility of other ventures, that’s probably when you and the quality of your performance is going to suffer.
With hard-work and perseverance, you can get through at the end of the day. Most things can be fixed provided you’re disciplined enough to do the work. I broke my leg a few times and I had back-to- back shoulder surgeries – my wife will tell you, I was nightmare to live with. But you have to have patience when you go through difficult times , when you’d get a little down.
I love the physical side of Hockey. I enjoy the challenge of competing against yourself and five other people everytime you are out there. If you’re someone who’s prepared to make a few sacrifices and do the little things, you can achieve a lot throughout the season, and I enjoy that.
I started my career young, and that can be a bonus to my experience in the sport. But it is also what I decided to do with that opportunity. You can be content with just simply going through the motions, or you can want to push yourself and become an integral part of a team. At 17 I was told – “Never turn up to camp to get in shape. Be the best person in shape at camp.” That was unheard of when I was younger. If you start the season in better shape than a lot of people, you get off to a good start.
If you play tentatively then your product suffers and you might not ever get back to where you should be. I just go straight in the deep end. If you aren’t fully committed, and you play a little on the side-lines for a few weeks or months, people might question your ability and commitment. Even if you’ve had an injury or setback, you’ve got to get straight back in there.
David Clarke (born August 5, 1981 is a British ice hockey player and a current member of the British national ice hockey team squad.