I have not included crunches in any of my off-ice hockey programs for at least 8-years. The fact is, they add to wear and tear on your lower back and contribute to disc herniation, they DON’T strengthen your 'core' the way you need it on the ice and…they don’t even give you six pack abs!
I know, shocking.
Instead I apply that biomechanics stuff I learned in University to the functional anatomy of how the body actually works and design training systems to improve those patterns and movements.
This pallof press isometric hold exercise is a perfect example.
Why is it so awesome for a hockey player?
Because it puts tension on the adductors (groins) and the abdominals. It stresses that functional chain of muscle. It also puts the adductors in a lengthened position (where they are vulnerable for injury) and lets us load them in a progressive way. Great place to start.
Start with 2-3 sets of 8 reps on each side – use a weight that feels light/medium, it is not meant to be a heavy exercise. For tempo, push the cable (or bungee) away from you for a count of "1", hold it there for a count of "2" and then return to the starting position for a count of "1".