Rising darts star Luke Humphries wanted to walk off stage as he battled anxiety

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Luke Humphries has enjoyed a fabulous 2022 so far, winning three European Tour events to announce himself as one of the finest players on planet darts.

The form of ‘Cool Hand’, who reached the final of the UK Open last year, is so strong that he is widely expected to be part of the Premier League in 2023, having narrowly missed out this season.

But the Newbury thrower has had to overcome far more than just his rivals on the oche to get this far, having battled anxiety throughout his career. The 27-year-old decided to speak out about his struggles a couple of years ago and is delighted he did so. Humphries admits anxiety is something he will always have to deal with but believes he has got the condition under control.

“I’m in a much, much better place than I was two or three years ago,” he told the Metro. “It was holding me back, it was hard for me to shut off and when you’re by yourself in hotels or wherever the anxiety creeps in because you’re just thinking all the time and you can’t help it.

“It’s not gone, but I manage it a lot better now, I don’t get really bad episodes anymore, no real bad panic waves, just anxiousness sometimes. But going up on stage it’s not really affected me, it just comes at random times, but it’s something I have to deal with and I think I’m doing alright at the moment.”

Humphries anxiety got so acute at one point that he even wanted to walk off stage during matches.

“It was affecting my darts, that’s why I came out and was open and honest about it a few years ago, I was getting anxious episodes on stage, it was quite scary in front of all those people,” he recalled.

“I didn’t know what to do, I just wanted to walk off stage. I don’t get that anymore, it’s something I’ve got under control and it’s not going to stop me from reaching the heights of darts like I thought it was going to.”

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Humphries did seek help and had cognitive behavioural therapy, but said: “I think I mainly did it myself. You’ve got to learn to accept the feelings and manage them in the best way possible for you. I don’t struggle too badly with it anymore, I’ve learned to manage it, accept the feelings and recognise the triggers of when it’s happening. It definitely helped speaking out.

Humphries admitted he was shocked when other players opened up about their own struggles with anxiety after he had spoken out.

“I knew people were doing it in different sports and I wanted to break the mould a bit in darts and be honest,” he said. “Quite a few pros said to me straight away that they experienced it too and thought it was just them.

“It shocked me how many darts players said they got it too, I thought I was the only one. It was the best decision to say something, because it allowed us all to realise we’re not alone, it’s quite common.”

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