Sheffield Steeler reveals how therapist brought him out of slump
Sam Jones has revealed how sessions with a mental health professional - and heart-to-hearts with club-mates - helped him overcome an anxious start to his season with Sheffield Steelers.
Last week, his coach Aaron Fox said that Jones had relished the opportunity for extra ice time, brought about by injury to Adrian Saxrud Danielsen.
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He had "really come into his own" said Fox.
Jones, a supporter of sustaining strong mental health, credits his enhanced form to his improved mindset and the support he's received.
He had been worried about his on-ice contributions - but not any more.
"I think I am now the player that Foxy saw when I was up in Fife" said the ex Flyer.
"I had a very tough start to the year (in Sheffield) mentally, in terms of over-thinking things. I was struggling in terms of confidence.
"I wasn't making the right plays and as a result of that I had a bad couple of games. My head went for a couple of months and my ice time obviously got limited" he admitted.
"Once you break out of it you are fine; as an athlete when things are going good they are going really good and when things are going bad they are going really bad.
"People don't necessarily see what goes on behind the scenes" said Jones, who is now fourth top Steeler in the 'plus-minus' statistics.
"Personally I have been a big advocate of mental health in general and reaching out to somebody.
"I talked to team-mates a lot, I made sure I communicated, but I went to talk to a therapist too. The NHS provided one.
"It was just to clear my head, it is good to talk to someone who can be objective of your situation, as well as family and partner, to bring you back to reality and make you take a step back.
"Being able to reach out to talk to somebody a couple of times helps. Those one or two (therapy) sessions that I had helped me massively."
Jones said the improvement to his mental health was a factor in him being trusted with more ice time adding: "From there it just got better."
"Credit to Foxy we had talks - he is the type to give you ice time if you earn it and go out and play well. He will put you on the ice if you earn his trust."
The defenceman said some coaches will watch a player make mistakes and form an early opinion which they are reluctant to change.
"With Foxy, it is whoever is playing better on any given night he is going to give the ice time to."
Jones was in the Sheffield side which win 6-2 at Fife on Sunday.
The win put Sheffield back with a two-point advantage at the top of the EIHL, with three games in hand over Cardiff Devils.