2022-23 Season

‘It’s like a puzzle’: How Jon Sanderson builds basketball players

Developing athletes is never one-size-fits-all. Players come in with different skills and builds, and they have to hone both if they want to be elite players. And just like individual skill sessions can help them become that, building their bodies takes similarly unique paths.

For Jon Sanderson, putting those pieces together is what it’s all about.

“This is my 21st year doing this — this is one of the more exciting things that keeps me excited year after year doing this,” Sanderson told MGoBlue’s Defend the Block podcast. “It’s like a puzzle, you gotta figure out ‘what do they need.’ There’s always that variance … and we figure it out and put it into programming.”

As the Michigan men’s basketball team’s strength coach, Sanderson’s job is to sculpt the Wolverines into better players through their time in his program, nicknamed Camp Sanderson. Whether that means hanging pounds on a scrawny frame or burning off body fat through intense workouts, he has to formulate an action plan and attack players’ physical weaknesses.

Like many strength coaches, Sanderson prefers to use individual workout prescriptions to help players hone their weaknesses. It’s a necessity, really, with the extreme variances across the Wolverines’ roster. A 7-foot-1 giant like junior center Hunter Dickinson needs to work out different areas than a 5-foot-11 freshman like guard Dug McDaniel. Tailoring workout plans to their needs is a key part of Sanderson’s job.

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