Bunting celebrates reaching his first Matchplay Quarter-Final (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Stephen Bunting has revealed working with a sports psychologist has helped turn his life around after struggling both on and off the oche.
After dropping out of the world’s top 16 amid a string of early exits in TV majors, Bunting admitted he considered walking away from the sport, but has sought help from a sports psychologist to help turn his fortunes around.
The 2014 Lakeside Champion has shown promising signs of a return to top form this season, reaching two ranking finals as well as the Quarter-Finals of the Betfred
World Matchplay – where he faces Rob Cross on Friday night.
Bunting has battled through two marathon matches to reach the latter stages in Blackpool, contesting more legs (51) than any of the other quarter-finalists, and attributes his new-found mental strength to working closely with a sports psychologist.
“I really believe that helped,” said Bunting. “It turned me around.
“I was walking into venues thinking ‘why am I coming?’ now I’m turning up at venues thinking I can win again.
“I was going home and being really moody around the family, now I’m happy and bubbly, I want to go and watch films and just chill out.
“It’s changed my whole life.
“He probably doesn’t understand what he’s done for me but it’s a massive help and long may it continue.”
Bunting held his nerve to edge out Gerwyn Price in an epic sudden death leg in Round One at the Winter Gardens before recovering from 9-4 down and surviving five match darts to overcome Ian White 14-12.
He now faces 2018 PDC World Champion Cross in a box office Quarter-Final and believes ‘the old Stephen Bunting’ is back after a lengthy spell in the darting doldrums.
“Darts can be a lonely place at times, especially if the results don’t go your way,” he added.
“I was so down at home and people don’t see that side.
“I was taking it out on the family, I was locking myself in the room and now I feel back I’m back to my old self like the Stephen Bunting that can win from behind.
“Even if I didn’t win against Ian [White], I’d have come off and taken the positives and just got ready for the next tournament.
“Now, I’ve got to get ready for Friday so it’s swings and roundabouts and you’ve got to understand that because you’re playing against the best players in the world.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it’s about how you learn to take defeat.”