Ask the Pro: Paul Lotman

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Paul Lotman competing with the U.S. Men's National Team.

Q: What are the biggest differences between the level of play in college and international competition? What were the biggest challenges for you when you transitioned from playing at Long Beach State to the international game, and what did you do to overcome those challenges?

A: There are several differences between college and international volleyball.

The most obvious is the speed at which the game is played. The ball comes at you a lot faster and harder at the international level. You have less time to think, react, and use your own speed, agility, and power to make a play.

Another difference is playing with teammates who come from completely different backgrounds, both in volleyball and life. Learning how to manage different personalities while being true to yourself can get tricky at times. Ive played on a team with guys from seven different countriesin that situation finding the right balance to create the best team is a difficult task. Lastly, and maybe most important, is learning how to be a professional. The jump from college to pro isnt easy in any sport, and volleyball is no exception. Learning how to be away from home for seven to eight months out of the year, often alone in a strange country, can take its toll on anyone. But being able to deal with this and still work hard every day and play your best is what it takes to be a professional.

I think the biggest challenge for me in transitioning from Long Beach to the international game was accepting the fact that I basically had to start over. Nobody cared that I was the Co-Player of the Year my senior year in college. If I wanted to be an elite player it was going to take a lot of work, mentally and physically. Ive also learned the higher the level of play, the more difficult it is to improve. It can get pretty frustrating at times but you can always get better as long as you challenge yourself to improve on one aspect of your game each day. Im pretty lucky to be able to play the sport that I loveit’s taken me to some amazing places and Ive met a lot of awesome people

Have a question for a volleyball pro? Send it to editor@volleyballmag.com.

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