Something about Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz

Something about Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz


V Druzhbe – Cila (Strength in Friendship)

Fizkultura I Sport Moscow, 1978

I.S. Kudyukov, editor

The Path to Records

Augustin Dzedzitz

Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.

Physical Preparedness

The level and character of one’s physical preparedness is of great significance for achieving high results in weightlifting. Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz had a very high degree in this regard. They achieved this at the Physical Education Academy before they began weightlifting and maintained it throughout their sport careers.

The general physical preparedness of these athletes can be called Track and Field/gymnastic. Baszanowski did gymnastics and was a distance runner before taking up weightlifting. Ozimek was almost a track athlete, having set a national junior record long jump at 6m 63 cm. Smalcerz was national level gymnast.

A very important element of Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz’s physical preparedness was their flexibility which facilitates the correct muscle – bone topography in the performance of the weightlifting exercises. Another important element of their preparedness was the high speed of muscle contraction as reflected by their results in such power exercises as vertical jump of 90 cm and higher; standing long jump of more than 3 m and 60 m run in less than seven seconds.

Psychological Qualities, Character Traits

Practical experience in training indicates that the weightlifter cannot achieve high results with good body structure and physical preparedness alone; without the necessary psychological qualities and character traits.

Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz did not possess what were considered the best physical qualities for weightlifting, nevertheless they were able to accomplish big things. The decisive factors in their case were character and psychological.

The most important character traits of Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz were: strength of will, decisiveness, sporting honor, perseverance in striving for a goal, which for them was the first place on the pedestal. Also, part of their character was their work ethic, diligence and discipline a sense of comradely  mutual assistance as well as a natural gravitation towards physical strength. Over time the latter trait became the foundation for their conscious, psychological motivation approach to training. The psychological part of training and the physical preparedness grew to such a degree for these sportsmen that even the large loading portion of their training became too small. The coaches frequently had to stop them from excessive work so they would not over-train.


We were already familiar with the basic concepts of correct lifting technique during the period Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz were active in weightlifting. We were familiar with the Soviet weightlifters already since their friendship visits to Poland in 1951 and 1953 as well as over the course of constant meetings on the international platform. Furthermore, we utilized the theoretical literature of such well known authors as Luchkin, Vorobeyev, Roman and others, where the authors analyzed technique scientifically. Subsequent direct contacts and participation in these meetings I was able to utilize this knowledge in practice with lifters like Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz.

Although the fundamental rules of technique are the same for everyone, each lifter has his own style within the parameters of this technique. It depends on the individual anatomical – physiological qualities of the athlete and psychological features. Therefore, we analyzed technique in general including the technique of Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz. For this we adopted generally accepted criteria of technique such as angular joint angles, barbell path and speed, support reaction and others.

We analyzed the technique and style of Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz when they set world records.

Joint Angles

The changes in the disposition of the body’s links during the execution of the weightlifting exercises reflect the external structure of the movement. We focused are analysis of the technique of Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz on the following positions (figure 2):

From top of Figure 2: Stick figures of W. Baszanowski (POL); N. Ozimek (POL); Z. Smalcerz (POL).

/ at the instant of barbell separation, start position {fig. a};

/ at the instant of greatest knee extension end of the first phase of the pull {fig. b};

/ at the instant of the greatest second knee bend of the explosion phase, {fig. c}.

/ completion of the explosion phase which lasts up to full extension of the hip joints {fig. d};

/ completion of the squat under at instant of highest barbell elevation {fig. d};

/ completion of the support phase of the squat under at the lowest position of the squat {fig. e}

The kinematics (measurements) were determined with 90% of each athlete’s maximum in the exercise. These criteria enabled us to assess the correctness of the athlete’s technique.

Our analysis revealed the following.

Baszanowski used a high starting position; his thigh was significantly higher than his knee joint (knee angle 70 – 90°); his shoulders and elbows are in the same vertical line with the bar. Ozimek and Smalcerz used a lower start with the thigh almost at knee height, (knee angle 60 – 70º); with the shoulders and elbows near perpendicular; Ozimek was in front of and Smalcerz behind the vertical line of the bar. The lower start position of Ozimek and Smalcerz as well as the imprecise disposition of elbows and shoulders over the bar was the reason their first phase of the pull was less effective than that of Baszanowski; the effectiveness of which is measured by the pressure applied to the barbell and the speed barbell as a whole.

Baszanowski’s legs straightened the most at the end of the first phase, whereas Ozimek’s knees straightened the least. The effectiveness of the first phase of the pull, i.e., the barbell speed, is conditioned by the force applied to the barbell over a specific segment of its path. The best effect is obtained with a high starting position and the optimum straightening of the knees. The main, defining element of this phase, is the final disposition, which involves the shifting of the axis of the shoulders forward in front of the vertical line of the bar. A static position of body and barbell does not contribute to the development and utilization of force in the individual joints; primarily in the hip joint which at this instant is moving away from the general center of gravity which is acting on the sportsman.

Consequently, at this instant both the support reaction and barbell acceleration fall. Under these same dynamic conditions of lifting a barbell the forward shifting of the shoulders in front of the line of the bar proves useful, because the barbell’s center of gravity shifts towards the sportsman which in turn also creates the opportunity to increase the path of influence of the straightening of the hip joints (the strongest muscles) to lift the barbell.

The greater the barbell speed in the first phase of the pull, the greater the potential to shift the shoulders forward and incline the trunk, relative to the platform; which in turn means greater potential to utilize the straightening of the hip joints.

This favorable structure can be seen with Baszanowski but to a lesser degree with Ozimek and Smalcerz. Position c in figure 2 illustrates the explosion position which must be achieved in order to utilize the maximum strength potential of all the body’s links which are acting on the barbell. With this structure force can be applied to the barbell most effectively.

We see the trunk straighten and the knees bend simultaneously at this moment. The knee bend results specifically from the action of the biceps femoris muscle. Biomechanical analysis of the snatch and the clean indicates the knee extensors are responsible for straightening the legs in the first phase of the pull; then this wok continues to bend the knees. This bending of the knees coincides with a simultaneous straightening of the trunk.

In the second phase, the straightening of the hips joints alters their function – they bend the knees, which is useful for the second straightening of the legs in the explosion. These muscles are lengthened in the first phase of the pull which in turn raises their potential in the second phase. The following disposition is important: the barbell’s center of gravity needs to lie in the same vertical line as the elbows and shoulders. Baszanowski and Smalcerz conform to this disposition but Ozimek’s shoulders are slightly backwards.

The knee and hip angles are conditioned by the strength of the muscles. The height of lifting in the first phase of the pull depends on the athlete’s body proportions and the width of the hand spacing. In our examples the height of the barbell was lowest for Baszanowski and highest for Smalcerz.  It should be noted that the height of lifting in the first phase of the pull increases along with the perfectioning of technique.

In this position Baszanowski and Smalcerz are already beginning to rise onto their toes. This is useful because the muscles which bend the feet are very strong and their “participation” in generating maximal force on the barbell is quite appropriate. However, in this position Ozimek is observed bending his elbows a little. This is not advantageous because these muscles are too weak for the growing reactive force.

Baszanowski continues to raise his heels in the final part of the explosion (figure d); and, a not complete, but significant straightening of the knees and hip joint takes place, with a noticeable “covering” the bar with the elbows. All of the figures are shifted backwards, relative to the vertical.

Ozimek does not fully straighten his legs whereas, Smalcerz straightens his knees and hip joint excessively and in addition throws his head back. The prolonged execution of the explosion by excessive straightening of the legs and hips is irrational because it delays the squat under. This is noticeable in figure e of figure 2. The barbell is already above Baszanowski’s head at the end of the non – support phase, whereas it is only at head height for Smalcerz.

All three athletes tilt their trunk forward a relatively large amount in the final part of the support phase while at the same time the bar is pushed backwards behind the head significantly. This disposition makes for good stability in the squat position.

The path of the barbell, speed and support reaction

The athlete changes his disposition position during the lifting which in turn, affects the path of the barbell. Barbell path is measured at the end of the bar or at the center of the barbell’ mass. For our purposes we followed the barbell’s center of mass because the end of the bar does not always accurately reflect the barbell’s path because the bar frequently bends in the horizontal plane.

Depicted in figure 3 are typical curves of the bar’s center of mass in the snatch for Baszanowski, Ozimek and Smalcerz. There are general similarities in the curves; however, of particular note, in all three cases, the barbell’s center of mass does not shift in front of the vertical line drawn through it from the starting position.

From left to right in figure 3: Bar curves and support reaction of W. Baszanowski (POL); N. Ozimek (POL); Z. Smalcerz (POL).

I taught these sportsmen to lift the barbell in this manner. I noticed that those weightlifters who shifted the barbell backwards slightly and hopped backwards a little in the squat under; performed the snatch with greater effectiveness than those who did not move the feet in the squat under, or hopped forward.

The differences in the height of lifting are due to the varying heights of the athletes and the width of the hand spacing. Ozimek applied the widest hand spacing and Baszanowski the narrowest.

Differences in the vertical deviation of the barbell depend on the starting position of the feet, relative to the bar. Baszanowski’s feet were closest to the bar; Ozimek’s the furthest away. The effect of the changing body position is reflected in the corresponding support reaction and the barbell’s vertical speed.

Baszanowski generates a large support reaction in the first and second phases but a moderatre support reaction in the support phase. There is not a noticeable difference in the support reaction between the first and phases for Ozimek, while at the same time his support reaction in the squat under is small. Smalcerz’s support reaction is moderate in the first phase, large in the second and significant in the supported squat under.

A large support reaction in the first phase is due to the high starting position and the proximity of the feet to the bar. The higher the starting position, the closer the feet to the optimal, the greater the mechanical advantage for the muscles which straighten the legs in the first phase of the pull.

One finds a growing force in the second phase with those lifters who perform the first phase slowly because lower speed allows the muscles to generate greater force. The increase in force in the second phase to a great extent depends on the shifting of the barbell towards the sportsman and the vertical synchronization of the generation of forces. Bending the arms at this time reduces the support reaction.

A large support reaction in the supported squat under is irrational. This occurs when the unsupported squat under is late.

Variations in barbell speed are due to the differences in the force applied to it. Baszanowski produced the best effect in both the first phase with an average of 140 – 150 cm/sec and 190 – 200 cm/sec in the 2nd. Despite his height Ozimek had the lowest speeds; an average of 110 – 120 cm/sec in the first phase and 175 – 185 cm/sec in the 2nd.

Smalcerz, the shortest of the three reached an average of 90 – 100 cm/sec in the first phase and 150 – 160 cm/sec in the 2nd.

Our analysis revealed that Baszanowski’s snatch technique was closest to the ideal. Ozimek and Smalcerz, although world record holders in this exercise, sinned in committing many technical insufficiencies.