Jon Sanderson, MA, CSCS, RSCC, USAW
Jon Sanderson is in his fourth year as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the University of Michigan men’s basketball and men’s and women’s golf programs. Before joining the University of Michigan staff, Sanderson spent three years working at Clemson University as the men’s and women’s basketball Strength and Conditioning Coach, as well as the Director of the Littlejohn Coliseum weight room. Sanderson served as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and Sports Nutrition Coordinator for Olympic Sports at Marshall University. He also worked as a strength and conditioning intern at the University of North Carolina, working with the men’s basketball program. Sanderson received both his Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Master’s degree in Recreation and Sport Sciences from Ohio University. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) and a Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach (RSCC), both through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Sanderson is also certified through United States of America Weightlifting (USAW) as a Club Coach.
1. How long have you been working in the field of strength and conditioning?
I have been working in the field for 11 years.
2. What is your philosophy (training style/methods) regarding training?
All of my teams are trained with a periodized plan that uses basic principles of progressive overload, variation, and sport specificity with an emphasis on the development of strength and power. I predominately use ground-based multi-joint/multi-muscle group movements in training while addressing the specific energy system demands of each sport. The use of the Olympic-style movements and squatting variations are a staple in my programing, along with injury prevention strategies.
3. How has this philosophy evolved over the years?
For example, with men’s basketball I have evolved into spending more time pulling off of the floor and 3 – 5 inch technique boxes when using the Olympic-style movements.
4. Who has influenced you the most throughout your career and why?
Thomas McKinney was my first boss in the profession when I did an internship with the men’s basketball team at the University of North Carolina. Thomas had a competitive weightlifting background. He did a great job of teaching me every aspect of being a successful collegiate strength coach. He was particularly good at teaching the Olympic-style lifts and how to effectively implement them into a program.
5. How do you adapt your programming to fit the needs of each athlete you work with?
I do initial assessments with our incoming student-athletes and design programs that meet their individual needs. For example, student-athletes that have issues with mobility will spend more time addressing those issues than those who do not have mobility issues.
6. What do you think is the most overlooked concept in the field of strength and conditioning?
In basketball strength and conditioning, the development of maximal strength is often overlooked. I love the saying, lifting light weights to get strong is like running slow to get fast. In a progressive manner, basketball athletes can train heavy, as long as they are prepared for the work. The development of maximal strength has huge implications on being explosive, which is a quality that every basketball player wants.
7. What resources do you use the most when it comes to getting continuing education as it pertains to the field?
My main resource is to attend conferences and clinics.
8. What is your take on “specificity” of training and how (if so) do you apply it to your programing?
I try to be very sport specific in my speed/agility/energy system development training. I want those sessions to simulate the demands of the game. However, in the weight room there is no such thing as a basketball power clean or a basketball back squat. I view the training we do in the weight room as the development of raw tools. When these raw tools of strength, power, mobility, etc. are developed, you will see athletes that can perform their sport skills with greater speed, strength, and efficiency while also staying durable.
9. What is your favorite tool in your tool box?
My favorite tool is the rack and platform.
10. What are your 5 favorite exercises?
My five favorites are the power clean, power snatch, back squat, front squat, and Romanian deadlight (RDL).