Mind over matter
Change to mental approach pays dividends for Lang
BY NEAL REID
Often times for professional athletes, the mental aspect of the game they play can be more difficult to master than the physical.
Just ask Brittany Lang.
The 26-year-old is now in her sixth year on Tour and has enjoyed considerable success. Always a consistent player, Lang has rung up 35 top-10 finishes in her career and has six runner-up finishes.
The first of those second-place results came at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open while she was still an amateur, and Lang’s most recent runner-up finish was at this year’s RICOH Women’s British Open. She has more than $3 million in career earnings and is a two-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member.
This year has been more of the same for the talented player. Lang has recorded six top-10s, missed only two cuts and played in her second career Solheim Cup.
“I’ve had a really good year,” Lang said. “I got off to a slow start again, but have been playing really well as of late. I’m really happy with where I am and hope to finish strong.”
Despite those achievements, Lang felt something was off in her approach to the game, so she underwent a shift in her mental approach to the game.
“I’ve been working on my mental game a lot and have just tried to be consistent in seeing my shots (in my mind),” she said. “I’m still practicing a lot and working on my mechanics, but I’ve really been working hard on my mental game. I’ve worked on really seeing my shots, hitting each shot and not getting lazy about that.
“I think that’s what’s really helped. I’ve been keeping a positive attitude and have really been working on seeing my golf shots every time.”
In the past, Lang would be “dialed in” for the entire five hours or so required to complete a round, leaving herself mentally spent at the end of the day. Her new philosophy has changed that.
“You’ve got to keep reminding yourself that you’ve only got to be locked in for about 10 seconds over each shot,” Lang said. “I’ve really worked on taking breaks between shots to really save my energy and focus so I can be focused for the five or 10 seconds when I’m over the ball. It’s been a struggle, because normally I focus for the entire five hours, and that’s unnecessary.”
Lang admits she was lacking mental sharpness in her game, a fact that perhaps held her back.
“My mental game was not very strong, and I’ve come a long way the last few years working on it,” she said. “I think the mental game is so important, and it’s just a huge chunk of everything. All of the great players have great minds, and they’re so disciplined with their thinking. With the mental game, it’s hard to get there, but it’s so worth it once you work on it, because it’s so important.”
Still in search of her first LPGA Tour victory, Lang is as hungry as ever.
“I want nothing more than to win and to win a lot,” she said. “It’s been tough. You come out and expect to win, and after six years you haven’t won. It’s been difficult, but you have to look at it in the right light. I’ve had a lot of good years and am getting close.
“I need to keep putting myself in the position to win, and playing in the final group in Malaysia was such a great experience for me. I’ve just got to keep putting myself there, because I haven’t been there much. I just need more opportunities.”
Neal Reid is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs, Colo., who spent six years as a media relations coordinator for the LPGA from 1998-2004. He has written for The Associated Press, Colorado Springs Gazette, Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury News, among many others.