The Cardiff Devils forward says "If you get your education, then you've got your platform set up for you."
Raise Your Game: Why hockey?
Phil Hill: I used to go Rollerblading in the park and my brothers used to play roller hockey. I went down to watch the games and I've been hooked ever since.
RYG: When did you make the switch to ice hockey?
PH: It was due to the fact that Cardiff had a professional team in ice hockey. I had the chance to watch a few ice hockey games back in the 1990's. I loved the atmosphere and the speed of it was quicker than roller-skating. It just seemed like a step-up from what I was already doing out in the park.
23 May 1982
- Cardiff Devils (2007 - 2010)
- Sheffield Steelers(2007 - 2008)
RYG: Ice hockey seems an extremely physical and very demanding sport, how important is it to be fit and healthy?
PH: It's the same as rugby. You've got to look after yourself because you're playing two games a weekend and you're training all week. If you're not eating and training right, then come game time you will get hurt.
You've got to make sure that your body is protected by building up your muscles through training and that you stretch out.
RYG: How do you prepare for a match?
PH: We usually spend five to ten minutes stretching out, to make sure we're warm before we actually get into the proper training session, and it's the same with the games. We'll also be on the ice 20 minutes before the game starts so that when it comes to game time, you're bang straight into it and you're not at risk from hamstring and groin injuries.
RYG: Is a healthy diet important?
PH: Any professional sportsman will tell you that you can work out in the gym as much as you like, but eating is the key. It's making sure that you eat a healthy diet with lots of fruit and carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice, so that you're always refuelling. If you're going into games tired or your training tired, then there's a risk of injury.
RYG: Do you have to be disciplined in ice hockey?
PH: It's more of a self-discipline. It's not as strict as rugby, but it is up to you to think 'Right I know I've got a big game coming up. I've got training in the morning. I've got to eat, I've got to prepare.' It's making sure you get into a routine.
RYG: What has ice hockey given you?
PH: It's given me so much. I've travelled through Europe, to America and to places where I would probably never have gone without playing hockey. It's given me the chance to meet so many people from different countries and learn about their cultures.
Not everyone is in a job where they wake up every morning looking forward to going to work and I'm grateful that I'm able to do something that I love.
RYG: Have you had to make many sacrifices over the years to get where you are today?
PH: My parents have made sacrifices because it's not an easy sport to get into and I'm away a lot. We won't have a weekend off now until next summer, and people think 'Well you're only training two hours a day in the week.'
You lose out on weekends especially when you get injured. I've been out for months and that's tough doing all the rehabilitation, not being on the ice and having to sit out on the sidelines.
RYG: How difficult is it to bounce back from setbacks such as injury?
PH: It is tough. I hurt my knee quite seriously and I was out for two to three months. I thought that I would have a short career, but that actually made me want to really enjoy it and work really hard to make sure that I'm the best I can be. An injury like that could take it all away and that's your career done. That's the reality.
RYG: Is it important to have an education behind you as a backup plan?
PH: When I was 18-years-old I could have stayed professional with hockey, but I went away to university because a career in sport is only up to a certain age. You need to have something to fall back on, and I knew that I wasn't going to make a living for life through hockey.
My three years at university flew by. If you get your education, then you've got your platform set up for you.
RYG: How important is it for you to set achievable goals throughout the year?
PH: For the team to be successful, we've got to set team goals. Through the summer I will set my own personal fitness levels and I'll try and maintain them through the season. I go out every game and make sure that I'm contributing, whether that's defensively or offensively
RYG: What would be your advice for young people looking to follow in your footsteps?
PH: Just stick with it. If you make sure that you always work as hard as you can, on and off the ice, you will achieve your goals. It might not be instantly, it might not be next week, but you will get to where you want to be.
Listen to people, gain advice and gain the respect of your fellow team-mates. Make sure you put in the hours and you'll have fun.
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