Reliability of the weightlifter’s performance in competition

Reliability of the Weightlifter’s Performance in Competition

V. A. Polyakov, Moscow

Tiazhelaya Atletika 67-70: 1977

Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.


In recent years there has been considerable interest in studying the sportsman’s reliability; his ability to utilize his physical potential to the maximum at important competitions.

It is common knowledge that the psychological aspect is an important factor determining the sportsman’s successful performance, his skillful mastery of which, for instance at important competitions when several athletes achieve the same high results. Therefore, it is very important to prepare the sportsman for the for the psychological struggle with various rivals; such that he is able to make maximum utilization of his physical potential at the right moment.

Research in sport psychology indicates that the quality of the sportsman’s nervous system has a significant affect on the sportsman’s performance in competition. Over the period 1974 – 1975 we studied excitability of the nervous system of 53 – highly qualified weightlifters. We used the tapping test as recommended by Y. P. Ilyn. The test reveals the strength of the sportsman’s nervous system and based on the data obtained we divided the sportsmen into “strong”, “average” and “weak” nervous systems. We determined the maximum potential hand taps of each athlete on a telegraph key for 5 – seconds, with intervals of 3 – 4 seconds for 35 – 50 seconds; as well as observing the sportsmen train for the USSR championships, the USSR Spartakiade, the world championships and their performances at these events.

A comparison of the number of taps was higher than the beginning level for the 1st type, lower for the second and remained approximately the same for the 3rd. Depicted in the figure are the tapping test results of three Olympic champions.

This generalized grouping of the weightlifters based on the quality of the nervous system allowed us to find the some distinctions between their training for and their actual performance in competitions. There were especially distinct differences in the conduct of the athletes with different tapping test scores during competitions and to a lesser extent during training. The athletes whom were grouped as the 1st type did better in important competitions.

Based on our observations of the athletes and knowledge of their tapping test scores we came to the following conclusions.

It was very difficult for the 2nd type of athlete to discuss his first attempts, he was unable to objectively evaluate his potential, he overstating his results with his opening attempts. We think these types are uncertain which makes them unable to perform to their maximum. They are irritable and categorical which masks their uncertainty prior to their performance. Consequently, the coaches need to be particularly attentive and patient in these conditions and with a calm logic convincingly demonstrate the need for a reasonable distribution of attempts. These kinds of athletes will be able to fully realize their potential under the skillful guidance of the coach and achieve very high results; then he will express his gratitude for a reasonable distribution of attempts. If on the other hand the athlete disregards the advice and sticks to his opening attempts this almost always leads a zero result.

Athletes whom are of the 1st type will calmly discuss their first attempts; soberly assess his potential judicially and not become flustered during the complex situations of the competition. These types of sportsmen are more reliable and easier to work with.

Observations of sportsmen competing at the USSR and world championships revealed differences in their warm-ups prior to their appearance on the platform, which related to their tapping test results. The sportsmen whom were the 2nd type did significantly fewer warm-ups and all of the warm-ups were done in half the time the required by the 1st type of athlete.

The number of warm- up attempts and the general time of warm-ups prior to the first platform attempt was approximately constant from competition to competition for one and the same athlete (see table).

Table 1. The number of warm – up attempts and the rest period in between before taking the first attempt in competition for two different athletes.

Athlete B

Att.1975 USSR/wt.T1975 WC/Wt.T1976 USSR/Wt.T
9th180*1.46167.5 1804.30
10th180*  185* 

Table 2. The number of warm – up attempts and the rest period in between before taking the first attempt in competition for two different athletes.

Athlete C          

Att.1975 USSR/wt.T1976 USSR/Wt.T
14 th190* 185 
  • Means the attempt was unsuccessful

If the athlete tries to do significantly more warm-ups than usual (he begins warming up early) the extra attempts he performs with insufficient excitation which does not contribute to a successful performance, i.e.,  the athlete has wasted his nervous energy before his first attempt.

From the table you can see that athlete B required an average of 11.5 minutes for warm-ups, after such a short time interval he was ready to perform limit tension. Whereas sportsman C required an average of 30 minutes to accomplish the same thing. If we look at the time interval between the last warm –up and the first attempt we see that this interval was almost the same for competition to competition: 4.00, 3.58, 4.00. This is indicative of this sportsman high “psychological” sensitivity. On the other hand athlete C the aforementioned intervals were 5.57 for the world championships and 7.04 for the national championships where he was unable to lift his first attempt.

Our data indicates that usually the athlete performs a sequence of attempts over specific stable time intervals, the preservation of which contributes to a successful performance of the exercise (especially the competition attempts). If for some reason this interval is disrupted, and exceeds significantly, 4 – minutes, this will result in missed attempts in competition. However, a cursory look at the table presented you will notice more stable intervals between attempts at the world championships for both athletes in comparison to the USSR championships. This is indicative of the high psycho – physiological mobilization of the athletes because of the importance of the competition.

An analysis of the competition warm – up shows that that the optimum time between warm-ups is about 4 minutes.

Knowledge of the peculiarities of the sportsman’s nervous system and in connection with this the peculiarities of his psycho – physiological warm – up pattern model conditions of competition can be created in training which take into account the peculiarities of the performance (general time of the warm – up and competition, number of warm – up attempts, time intervals between attempts). All of this will contribute to the sportsman’s successful performance in important competitions.