Today, I talk about using the booster, speed glue, tuner in table tennis. Boosting rubbers, especially for “Chinese table tennis rubbers” are very common. Not only professional table tennis players, but also amateurs boost or tune their rubbers.
Booster/Tuner in table tennis
A player asked me “How to tune his National DHS Hurricane 3 blue sponge rubber”?
“Hello I would like your advice on boosting, for hurricane 3 is better to boost straight on the sponge or should I put glue first and then booster? This is my setup hurricane 3 38 degree for backhand and hurrican3 blue sponge 40 degree for forehand”.
Before learning to use the booster, you need to understand what is this first. Is it safe to use in table tennis?
What is table tennis booster?
Since Speed Glue is banned completely. ITTF apply the ENEZ chamber test box to detect the small amount of VOC released from the player’s racket. Table tennis players always want to boost, to tune their racket to have a better effect. Some players tried baby oil, paraffin oil, olive oil, and synthetic motor oil, but it didn’t work great. And then, here comes the booster.
ENEZ device is the device has been designed for the time after the ban of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by the ITTF has become effective to test rackets in tournaments whether they have been prepared with VOCs systematically.
It’s called as “booster”, “optimizers”, “expanders” or “tuners”, appeared at the end of 2007. These products applied to the sponge of the rubber to increase its thickness and give more speed and rotation to the ball, not as much as the “Speed Glue” but not far. Booster contains low volatile compounds mixed with some chemical oils. The booster is more viscous and absorbs slowly into the rubber sponge. Therefore, the “boosting effect” of the booster will last up to 3-4 weeks.
Before 2005, the Chinese National Team (Wang Liqin, Kong Linghui, and others) used TSP Noriko as the speed glue. However, since speed glue is banned, they are using Booster now. The 3 most popular in table tennis are (considered as the best table tennis boosters): Haifu booster, Dianchi Booster, and Falco Tempo Long Booster.
Booster is legal or not?
Using booster, tuners, expanders and speed glue in illegal in table tennis.
ITTF had stated:
Rule 2.4.7: The covering material should be used as it has been authorised by the ITTF without any physical, chemical or other treatment, changing or modifying playing properties, friction, outlook, colour, structure, surface, etc.
Based on the rule, using booster will modify the playing properties of the rubbers. So you are not allowed to use the booster, chemical treatment in the official competitions.
However, using a factory tuned rubber is allowed by ITTF. That means you can’t boost the table tennis rubber yourself, but you can buy a pre-tuned factory rubber. So if you have your own factory or your own rubber brand, you can use the so-called “pre-tuned” or “factory tuned” rubber. That’s why nowadays, there are many Factory Tuned or Neo version of Double Happiness DHS rubbers.
If you are professional players and is sponsored by a table tennis company. You can ask them to boost and tune the rubber to your desired level. So until now, there are some tricks about using the booster in table tennis. The borderline of legal or illegal is not very clear.
Is Using table tennis booster detectable?
The booster contains the extremely low evaporation oil. The VOC rate is very low compared to the ITTF detection limit (5ppm). So until now, using the booster is not detectable.
To prepare for the Olympic Tokyo 2020, the Japanese Table Tennis Association (JTTA) is working with the Olympics Committee to develop the new protocol to control the racket. This action is to fight the using of the booster of Chinese table tennis players. Everyone knows that Top Chinese players use the booster, but it’s not detectable. Amateur levels who play Chinese table tennis rubbers also use boosters. Since the using table tennis boosters are not detectable by the instruments used by the ITTF, there is no risk of being disqualified.
For me, I can easily know if a player boosts his rubber or not. Using booster or speed glue will make the sponge expanded. When you hit the ball, the sound is much louder, and the sound is like “bap, bap” (high pitch noise). So using the booster is detectable by human experiences.
Why Chinese players use the booster?
During the China Trials for WTTC 2011, Ma Lin is caught using the booster in his hotel room in the CCTV5 reportage.
There is also the footage shows that Wang Liqin, Fan Zhendong was using the Racket control tester of ITTF. They want to make sure that their tuned Chinese table tennis rubber will pass the test.
Booster has a very low VOC rate. You just only need to air your racket several hours after applying the booster. Then check your racket with the VOC detector box to verify again.
Chinese table tennis rubber has a dense and very hard sponge. Hard sponge ensures that the power from the stroke is completely transferred to the ball. However, a very hard sponge is not easy to play. Chinese rubber needs to be “break in” before using in the competition. “Break in” is to make the sponge a little softer, less deadly, more elastic. And the best way to “break in” is using the booster. The booster will expand the sponge, inject the “artificial tensor” to the hard sponge.
The sponge is now more elastic, 3-4 degree softer. There are many advantages: the sound is louder, higher speed, and higher spin. In conclusion, the Chinese table tennis rubber is not very effective without using boosters. That’s the reason why Chinese table tennis players, not only professional levels but also amateur level, use the booster to tune their Chinese rubbers.
Is using booster harmful?
Unlike the speed glue which contains VOC, booster contains mostly oil and is nearly VOC free. Some peoples claim that booster is not harmful. However, when I open the bottle of Falco Long Booster, I can feel the sweet smell of the oil. I said to myself “Oh, shit!” and quickly took a mask. The sweet smell from the booster is very close to the smell of synthesized petrol oil that I’ve known.
Please note: Natural oil like olive oil, colza oil is harmless. But chemical oil derived from petrol is toxic.
The composition of the booster:
- Tridecane C13H28: alkane hydrocarbon, Colourless liquid, Odor gasoline-like, combustible liquids, used in various fuels and solvents in industry.
- As in the petroleum industry, the oil will contain additives and derivatives. In the booster, there is also another hydrocarbon (C10 – C14), Tetradecane, Decane and Cyclohexane (the same component in speed glue), and Trichloroacetic.
- Trichloroacetic acid is considered a poison. May be fatal if absorbed. Very corrosive – causes severe burns.
- Dodecane is considered a harmful component. It can cause damage to the lungs if absorbed.
- Cyclohexane can cause cancer.
So even table tennis booster is nearly VOC free, but still very harmful for your health. In the industry or in the chemical laboratory, they manipulate this product with the mask and the gloves. But you, table tennis player, use your hand with the brush, apply these boosters to your rubbers every 3 months. You also let it dry in your living room during 24h, and inhale these “sweet smell”.
Should I tune, boost my rubbers in table tennis?
My advice for you to use or not to use table tennis booster. What is the purpose of your table tennis?
If you play table tennis to earn your life like the professional players, you have no choice. A little disadvantage can alter the result of the match. You can feel less confident. It’s like “If you can’t beat them, join them”.
If you play table tennis to be healthy, for fun. Stay away from the booster. You don’t play for money. You get more risk from the hazardous effect than the reward of using the booster.
Remember: You need to distinguish these 2 pictograms. The first one is “Skull and Crossbones = Toxic”. Like being exposed to acid, the effect can be seen right after. You know it and can treat it soon. But the second one is “Health Hazard = Carcinogen”. The effect is not easily discovered after exposure. But 10 years, or even 20 years later, it causes the cancer. But it’s too late to cure.
Listen to me. If you are amateur players, play safe with your own health. Don’t use the booster. If you play Chinese rubbers, use the “physical approach” to break in the sponge. Glue it correctly, hit very hard during 2 weeks, and then you can have an optimal hardness range that you want.
How to use boosters in table tennis?
Using table tennis booster to expand the sponge of the rubber is easy. In general, there are several steps to apply, to use the booster, tuners:
Step 1 – Apply the glue on the rubber
Then let the glue dry. Use can use a fan to accelerate this process (around 5 minutes).
Step 2 – Apply the 1st layer of booster
Before gluing, apply 1 to 2 layer of the booster to the sponge only. The booster will absorb slower to the sponge of the rubber. However, the boosting effect lasts longer than the speed glue.
Wait for the booster absorb into the sponge for 12-24 hours. The sponge will expand because of the chemical substance, so it will make a dome. This is normal. This is the way you introduce the artificial “tension” to the sponge.
Wait for 12h before apply the 2nd layer of the booster.
Step 3 – Apply the 2nd and 3rd layer of booster
Don’t apply more than 3 layers. If you apply too much booster, your rubber will curve too much and it’s very difficult to glue the rubber now. The sponge is also too mushy. You will lose the power to your shots.
The booster will make the sponge softer to 3-4 degree. That’s why Chinese player always wants to buy the harder version rubber, to use with the booster. If you can hit very hard, and want to play with 39-degree Chinese hardness on your Forehand. Buy 41-42 degree.
Step 4 – Apply the glue on the rubber and the blade
Then apply the glue on the rubber. Note: The first glue layer is to protect the sponge. This glue layer is to glue the rubber onto the blade.
Then apply a glue layer on the blade:
Step 5 – Stick them gently with a roller
Wait for the glue dry.
Chinese players also prefer a thinner version. They prefer 2.10mm to 2.15mm than the 2.2mm and 2.3 mm (MAX). Because thinner sponge offers more consistent shots, and thinner sponge also expands easier with the booster.
Here is the full video off ppball that shows you how to apply the booster on the Chinese table tennis rubbers.
Professional Tips to Boost Hurricane 3 Rubbers
In general, Chinese players love applying several layers of the booster on their rubbers. In my experiences, I know the player who applied 3 layers of the booster. He explained to me:
3 layers of the booster give me great feeling.
Yes, Chinese coaches and players, I know also love boosting their rubbers.
Many top Chinese players also applied a thick glue and booster on their Chinese forehand rubbers.
Wang Hao also used very thick glue and booster! Here is the photo of his personal rubber! He is using the National Hurricane 3 Bluesponge on Forehand, and a custom Sriver on his backhand. (Photo provided by Phong Nguyen, our Table Tennis Connect group).
The glue thickness is estimated at almost 1.5 mm.
I recommend you a very strong VOC or non-VOC for Chinese rubber!
Here is my advice:
- Boost new rubber
- and re-tune used rubber
Boost new tacky Hurricane rubber
For your new rubbers: You should apply the booster directly into the sponge. This is called “break-in”. And you should apply only 1 layer!
Don’t over-tune at this stage! Otherwise, your rubber would be “mushy” and lose a lot of speed!
Wait for 24h! And let the rubber make the domed curved. Use the air bowler, and let the rubber absorb the booster, and let it come back to the flat situation. Don’t apply the second layer now! Just wait!
Here is what it looks when you “over-tune” your rubber! It’s very hard to make the rubber become flat now.
Then, you will apply 2 layers of glue! And use strong glue! So for new rubber, booster and then glue!
Re-tune the used Hurricane 3 rubber
For example, after using for 3 to 6 months, your rubber will become less “responsive, bouncy”. It will be a little slower, and less spinny as the “freshly tuned rubber”. Now, you will make a re-tune or re-boost.
For this stage, you should apply a thin layer of glue first.
And then apply one layer of the booster! Why?
Apply the booster after the glue layer is a best solution!
By doing this, there are 2 advantages:
- You don’t need to do the “break-in” now (The rubber is already “broken-in”, already has the “tension”). So you apply the booster after the glue layer, to avoid over-tune your rubber.
- Second, this way will help the booster “absorb” to the rubber slowly, through the layer of glue. This can increase the “booster effect” on the Chinese rubber.
Top 5 Recommended Boosters to use
I have already answered it here, in the “Booster, Tuner article“. Read it carefully before deciding to use the booster or not. It’s not legal, but most of the player who wants to use “Chinese rubbers” will use the booster.
The most 5 common boosters used nowadays are:
- Haifu booster
- Seamoon booster
- Danchi booster
- Falco Long booster
- Revolution X-treme Power
1. Haifu booster
Haifu booster is one of the best boosters for Chinese rubbers. It’s used by National Chinese players (Ma Lin, Xu Xin, Ma Long, etc).
2. Seamoon booster
Seamoon oil booster is a good alternative for Haifu booster. Very good booster for hard, tacky DHS Hurricane rubbers.
3. Danchi booster
Danchi booster is combined with the glue. So it’s very practical to glue and tune Chinese rubbers at the same time.
4. Falco Long booster
I’ve used both Falco Booster. I recommend you using the Falco Long Booster (150 mL) for the easiness of applying, and Seamoon for the long effect.
5. Revolution X-treme Power
Revolution X-treme Power Booster review
Although this booster is legal to use, not many players use it. Here are my reviews.
- Nothing to do with the other boosters that I tested, it is very liquid.
- Almost without any smell. The foam (sponge) quickly reacted to the first two layers. But the booster evaporates very fast, only 15 minutes.
You need to apply several layers (2-3 layers) using Revolution booster.
- I prefer using Seamon Booster for longer effect. (Click here to check price)
Revolution X-treme Power vs Falco Long booster
Compared to Falco, I find it less powerful, less efficient in terms of performance.
Revolution compared to the Seamoon, much less efficiency.
Note: you need to wait 24-48h before gluing after applying the last layer of the booster.
Advantages of X-treme booster
- Quick absorption. Use it as the short term booster.
- Legal, can’t be detected
- Easy to apply. (Read comments below).
That’s it for this Ping Sunday. It’s 1:00 a.m morning in France. If you love my article, please share and rate it. Want to offer me a coffee for my nights, go to my Patreon page.
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Coach EmRatThich was born in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1983. He started playing table tennis at the age of 8. After finishing his Ph.D. in Paris, University Pierre Marie Curie (Sorbonne University) in 2011, he is now a table tennis coach in a small club in France (about 153 players). Interested in table tennis coaching for a global audience, he founded pingsunday.com, one of the best online coaching programs for table tennis players. Using the Chinese coaching philosophy, his table tennis lessons are free, which allows many table tennis players to improve fast. He can speak English, French, Vietnamese, and a little bit of Chinese.