Jon’s Tips: Painting Your OBO Helmet

For all you creative OBO-ites who’ve been asking about painting your OBO helmets but aren’t sure how to go about it, here’s some ideas and advice based on recent experience. If you’re handy and keen, you can jazz up your helmet at a reasonable price on your own.

For all you creative OBO-ites who’ve been asking about painting your OBO helmets but aren’t sure how to go about it, here’s some ideas and advice based on recent experience. If you’re handy and keen, you can jazz up your helmet at a reasonable price on your own.

I need to start off with an advisory, if you’re not handy, this is best left to professionals. You can find mask painters on the internet. Depending on the part of the world you live in you might have to ship it away and depending on the type of mask you have it may not be worth it. Professional painters will charge anywhere between $200-$400 US based on how complicated your design is.

If you are handy, but haven’t done this type of work before, PATIENCE (note capitals) is a key skill. Painting a mask properly is not done in a day. Preparation is the other big word. A paint job is only as good as what’s under it and if you don’t do the prep work and get a good smooth, clean surface to paint, it will show in the paint. In keeping with the P theme, the other key to a good paint job is planning.

There are a number of ways to paint/decorate your mask and a lot will depend on the type of mask you’re painting. The OBO CK and FG masks are made from either Carbon Kevlar or Fibreglass and are painted (or have a finish on them) while the PE, Poly P and ABS helmets are essentially plastic without a finish.

Before you commit to painting your helmet, I recommend taking to Youtube and looking at some of the entries under GOALIE MASK PAINTING. Most of them show the work of professionals and involve airbrush work. There are low-tech ways to paint masks and the video below is a particularly good clip:

The mask that’s shown in the video involves painting and vinyl decals. Vinyl decals are another way to decorate your helmet and can be custom done by any Sign Shop that has graphics arts programs. They’re durable, easy to apply and can be a way to incorporate more intricate, detailed designs relatively cheaply. An expensive set of vinyl decals could be $60US. If you’re going to paint your helmet with anything other than one colour, expect to spend at least $40+US for spray paint.

At the planning stage of painting your mask, you should have a good idea of the design and if this is your first go, I’d recommend keeping things simple. If you’re somewhat artistic, draw the design out. You can trace a template of the mask if that helps and lay it out. Assemble your materials, paints, masking tape, sandpapers, paint stripper, scrapers, screw drivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, etc. Spray paints that are designed for cars are best for masks.

As mentioned, preparation will depend on whether your mask already has a finish on it. If it does (CK or FG helmets, you’ll need to take the clear coat and any paint off first). Regardless of type of helmet, you want to remove the cage and any other helmet hardware. Depending on the state of your helmet, that can be tricky as screws can rust (hence the wrench and/or pliers). If you’re helmet hardware is in a really bad state, have replacement hardware lined up before you get too far along. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have a flash paint job and rusty old screws. Set aside your hardware and make sure it’s in a good place.


Step one of preparation starts with a good wash with a mild liquid soap, a plastic scrub brush and a good dry. A couple of notes about spending time and money on your paint job, your finished product will reflect what you put in, especially on what you do before you paint. Quality materials won’t cost a fortune.

My project was a half painted Flame FG helmet that I was looking to personalize. I wanted to tone down the Flames, accentuate the raw natural fibreglass and add a little simple trim. The first bit was stripping off the clear coat and painted section. When selecting paint strippers, read the directions carefully and make sure they’re suitable for your helmet. Most automotive paint strippers are fine for FG and CK helmets, not for PE, Poly P or ABS types. You will need to use a scraper to remove the paint. A word to the wise, work with the contours of the helmet when scraping and as much as it is scraping, be gentle. You don’t want to leave gouges or deep scratches when you scrape as you’ll have to sand or fill them later.

Next up on the prep front is sanding. Sandpapers come in a number of types and grades. The higher the grit, the finer the paper and there is dry and wet sandpaper. If you’ve done a good job with your stripping, sanding should go in rounds. First round is a medium grade (400-600 dry grit paper) and sanding should be done lightly in a circular pattern to smooth out major surface irregularities. Depending on how smooth your painting surface is, you may be able to go directly to wet sanding with a fine paper (1200-1400 grit). Both the mask and the paper (grit side) should be wet when wet sanding and with fine papers, more sanding is better as you won’t sand into the masks composite materials.


Once you’re satisfied that the mask is smooth and clear of residue paint, you’re ready to start painting. Once again, paint work will depend on your paint job. For my mask, I wanted to retain the natural fibreglass look for most of the helmet so clean and smooth was as far as I needed to go. If you’re looking to completely paint your mask, then primer is next. You can buy sandable primer and if your mask isn’t completely smooth, it’s a good idea. Before applying primer, make sure you’ve completely washed, rinsed and dried your mask. Primer is the bond for paint and if you don’t have a clean, dry surface the primer and paint won’t adhere. You also won’t likely need to paint the inside of your mask. You should tape the cutout for the cage and other holes to prevent spray getting on the inside.

You’re now ready to prime. Using primer will be good practice for painting later. Whatever paint or primer you use, READ THE DIRECTIONS. Not all paints are the same and this is especially true as it applies to spraying multiple coats and for primers, how long you need to wait before spraying colour over it. When spraying coats of primer or paint, multiple light coats are better than single heavy coats. Heavy coats of paint take longer to dry between coats and are more likely to sag or drip. Make sure you’re spraying in a bright and well-ventilated area.


Once you’re happy that you’ve got a good primer coat down, you’ll need to wet sand with a fine paper again. Make sure mask and paper are wet and be light with the paper and work in a circular pattern. Rinse with clean water and then let the mask completely dry.

Painting will depend on the complexity of your paint scheme. If you are using multiple colours, your base colour should be the one that covers the majority of the mask. Like primer, read and follow the paint instructions, especially as it applies to multiple coats of paint and the time between coats. Once again, many, light coats are preferable to fewer heavy coats. Be patient, if you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to overspray and get drips. If you do get drips and you’re looking to do a quality job, it’s far better to stop early, let the paint dry and sand the drips out. Hoping to get the drip out by spraying more coats of paint on, rarely works well.

Mask 2

Depending on your design, you may need to tape when spraying other colours. A couple of notes on taping, buy good masking tape (professional painters grade). Nothing will botch your best paint plans up faster than using bad tape. Make sure the paint layer under the colour you’re taping is fully dried and cured. If it isn’t, the paint will adhere to the tape and come up when you remove the tape. Check to make sure the tape is fully adhered between coats, especially in curvy areas of the mask as tape can release. Lastly, make sure the paint is dry before removing tape. If you do get some wobbly lines when you remove tape, you can always re-tape and spray the adjacent colour or if it’s only a small bit and light you can try rubbing it out with a small bit of paint remover on a rag.

Once you’re satisfied with your paint, the last step is clear coat. Plan on using all the clear coat you get in a large spray can, it’s basically the only thing that protects your paint. Recurring theme, lots of light coats are best. Once your clear coat is dried, wet sand the finished product as that will level the finish.


Painting a PE, Poly P or ABS helmet is much simpler. There’s no paint or clear coat to remove, you don’t need to prime and you can use a plastic paint on the helmet. You’ll still need to apply a clear coat to protect the paint and make sure it’s compatible with the paint you use.

Leg Burner!!

Join OBO and USA National Goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer for a leg burning fitness session!

Join OBO and USA National Goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer for a leg burning fitness session!

This drill is a “leg burner” with lots of footwork combined with making a desperation save and a second shot save. You start by doing quick feet (stepping over the baseline and back with both feet 3 times), moving through the cones wither forward or laterally, putting 2 feet between each cone, then drop stepping back toward the far post before diving and attempting to make a desperation save, followed by a second shot. We typically only do this 3 or 4 times on each side because it is very tiring, but will have you in good shape!!!

Let us know how you get on! Good Luck!

Can I paint my OBO helmet?

The helmet you have has a clear coat of lacquer which will need to be stripped before you paint….


Can I paint my OBO helmet?

The helmet you have has a clear coat of lacquer which will need to be stripped before you paint. What type of paint you use will depend on how you are going to paint the helmet. For simple paint jobs you can use aerosol cans of spray paint. Depending on your artistic abilities and resources, you may use an airbrush. Whatever way you paint (paint brush, spray can, air brush), the quality of the finished product depends on your preparation. You will want to remove the cage and straps so you have clear access to work/paint the mask. I would recommend Brudtärna klänning using a paint stripper to remove the finish.

After you strip the lacquer, thoroughly wash and rinse the helmet and allow it to completely dry. If the helmet has residue or dirt, the paint won’t adhere. You will need to sandpaper the helmet to get the helmet smooth. Start with a rough sand paper and then you will want to use a fine wet/sandpaper to get a smooth finish. Then you will apply your paint. Once the paint is done, you’ll put the clear coat on. If you use a spray paint, look for an automotive paint and/or Clear Coat/Lacquer.

I just got done painting a helmet and to do it properly it will probably take a week depending on how detailed you want the paint job to be. The big thing is don’t rush and make sure you follow the instructions on the paints you use. If you use several colours, each colour will have to fully dry and cure for the paint to properly adhere to the mask surface. If it doesn’t fully cure, you’ll get big chips when a ball strikes the helmet. You will probably want to protect the paint with several (at least four or five) coats of clear coat. Good luck and let me know if you have more questions,



Bianca Russell’s choice of kit

Each and every keeper has different reasons for why they use certain pieces of OBO kit. We thought it would be nice for you guys to see and discuss what New Zealand goalkeeper Bianca Russell uses and why she chooses it.

Each and every keeper has different reasons for why they use certain pieces of OBO kit. We thought it would be nice for you guys to see and discuss what New Zealand goalkeeper Bianca Russell uses and why she chooses it.

Picture 2

Q: List of Gear you use and why?

Everything on top is OBO, everything underneath is Mizuno – why? Because it’s the best. Oh, and believe it or not, I wear a possum fur belt in cooler weather by Nature Support to keep my back toasty and warm, otherwise I’ll get stiff and sore!

Carbon helmet – worth the extra weight for the supreme protection.

Robo armour – light, good fit, non-restrictive.

Robo shorts and overshorts – tried and true you won’t get more mobility than this and they are more slimming than clown pants!

Robo custom logo pads and kickers – I go for hi control kickers for best control, protection and durability. They sit nicely over Mizuno Wave Ascend shoe – I’m often asked what shoe I use and why. This one is actually an off-road runner. It has a low centre of gravity and multidirectional grip allowing me to take off quickly – no slipping.

Stick, I’ve tried a few but gone back to the OBO fat boy, mainly because with the lighter sticks I started ‘waving’ at the ball and on occasion leaked goals against the men strikers purely because they hit the ball so hard, lighter sticks rely on wrist strength to stop the shot whereas heavier sticks all you have to do is get in the path of the ball with the right angle to control the ball nicely over the baseline. The depth of the fat boy also allows for sweep clearances without snagging the turf grain.

Under all the OBO kit I’m outfitted by Mizuno and typically use mid-thigh bike shorts, any shirt so long as it’s light and quick-dry fabric but often compression gear in winter or when I’m needing the muscle recovery.

What do you use and why?

Always Helping

Trust, trust, trust

Trust, trust, trust. Trust in yourself, trust in the coaching staff, and trust that you are doing exactly what you should be doing.

I was so grateful for the Olympic experience that I had. I have been playing hockey at this level for 12 years, and this is the first time I have been to a tournament as the only goalkeeper. Before the tournament I thought that maybe it would be a lonely time, mainly before and after games, but it wasn’t. The times that I had to myself were good for mental preparation.

The extra pressure that I normally put on myself about whether or not I will play the next game was eliminated. I could just play and for me that worked. I was the best prepared I have ever been. I have had many experiences over my career both good and hard, and all were a driving force to get me prepared for the Olympics. This also fuelled my determination to perform to my best during the tournament.

Over the years I have learnt to deal with distractions. Like the distraction of already being a couple of minutes behind in your warm up, walking out from the change room to the pitch and realising once you get out there that you have forgotten your right glove. My on ball warm up can’t start without my right glove. So I asked the girl warming me up, very nicely, if she could run to the change room and get my glove. I just grabbed a ball and started juggling it to warm up while I waited for her. There was no need to make a big scene, I am sure most of the girls and some of the coaching staff didn’t even realise that I left my right glove in the change room. She got back out to the pitch, both of us were very calm and we started the on ball warm up. It was our 3rd game of the Olympics vs USA, I saved a stroke that game and we won 1-0. Being able to deal with distractions both on and off the field is very important.

All the best … Toni

Bianca Russell: Notes Post Olympics

Hi Goalies, here’s a few comments on my personal experience of the Olympics. I hope it inspires you young keepers to train hard and aim for the top so one day you can have an Olympic experience of your own.

London was my first Olympics and given that I’m 34 now, it’s likely to be my only one – but it was definitely worth the wait. We’ve all been in the situation where there’s an incumbent goalie holding top position in a team that means we have to do the ‘bench time’ and wait until they stuff up or retire before you get a chance to play. I think persistence is the key, don’t ever give up, keep pushing them and training hard because one day your time will come.

In preparation for this tournament I took advice handed down from other Olympians both successful and not so much, that had gone before us. We knew what to expect in theory with the hype, the pressure, the public attention that hockey in NZ just doesn’t usually get and the general idea was to separate the hockey tournament from the Olympic ‘event’ as much as possible. I thought I’d just treat the hockey like ‘business as usual’ and then just enjoy the colour and atmosphere of the village and games in general. Good plan but there was a flaw in that I hadn’t factored the hockey side of things to be as intense as it turned out. Every team there had spent the last 4 years building to this campaign. Every team had no doubt trained as hard as we had. Olympic games is every sports pinnacle event and I can honestly say that I just played the most incredible, high quality, full on intensity, enormous pressure games of my life. There’s no more playing with different combinations, trying out structures or patterns, resting players or building for the bigger picture – this is it, this IS the bigger picture. When the first whistle of each game went, I got a tingling – goose bumps sensation because I was so excited to be there. I was distinctly aware that a soft goal or a great save could make or break our whole campaign and that created more pressure on myself to make sure I got it right. I found that focussing on the present moment and endeavouring to keep things simple and go with gut instincts rather than overthink situations was the key to playing well. Communication was key to our defence and something I personally had worked on prior to the games. Because the stadium was so loud I had to scream at full volume to be heard by my own players and I lost my voice almost every game. It’s taken a full 10 (quiet) days to be talking normally and not croaking like a frog.

All the keepers were playing exceptionally high standard and mistakes were rare throughout the competition. Everyone looked sharp in customised kit, great helmet spray designs and all were brimming with energy in the electric stadium atmosphere filled for every match with 16,000 fans. For Olympics, everything is turned up; stadium set up is bigger, brighter, louder, players emotions are clearly visible in their expressions with pure elation for a win and utter heartbreak for a loss. Our team had a ‘have a go’ attitude and it seemed to do well for us. We held nothing back and won the hearts of the people back home. It’s still early days but I have mixed emotions about the whole thing. It’s been the best hockey and most incredible life experience I could have imagined but our 4th placing is hard to swallow and I suspect will haunt me for a long time to come. Overall was it worth all the hard training, early mornings, late nights, injuries, stress and financial hardship that comes with the elite hockey lifestyle? You bet it was! Real life is boring guys. If you fancy international travel, stadium hockey and carrying the pride of your nation as you go – best you get training!

Conditioning robo hi rebound kickers


Just bought new Robo HI REBOUND kickers from Cranbarry, your USA distributor. No info was included on how to condition them. Called Cranbarry and they couldn’t help. Can you reply with instructions? Thanks, Mark and Libby.


Hi Mark and Libby,

Conditioning the Robo HI REBOUND Kickers is fairly straightforward. The first part is shaping the kickers (if they were received flat). To shape the kickers, you’ll basically fold them to the shape that you want them as they’ll sit on your foot. I like to bend them ten or fifteen times and then wrap them with an elastic bandage and let them sit overnight. Take some time and make sure the straps are properly adjusted for the shoes you’ll be training. The first couple of times you wear the kickers be aware of hot spots on your legs from the kicker’s rubbing as you can blister. I sometimes wear two pair of socks for those first sessions in new kickers. Make sure the kickers are properly fastened. Make sure the rear buckle and straps are pulled all the way back so that your foot is sitting all the way back in the kicker. The Robo HI REBOUND kickers break in quickly. Hopefully that helps, give me a shout if you’re looking for more,

all the best,


Here’s a video that might help…