0 items

Review: 5 Oil-based Boosters

07 February 2022  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

Booster MEGA Test

     I have previously written a detailed blog post about boosting, i.e., the practice of applying certain liquids and oils onto rubber sponges for potential performance gains. Therein, I outlined the developments that led to the use of boosters (speed glue ban, the transition from 38 mm to 40 mm ball), what boosters are and how they work (paraffin/mineral oils, expanding the sponge, increasing the tension of the top-sheet), why boosting is controversial (illegal per ITTF rules; players face the ethical dilemma of abiding by an unenforceable rule or lose out on performance gains; many commercial rubbers come factory-boosted), the benefits of boosting (increased catapult effect and feeling; improved spin), and methods for boosting. Rather than repeating these aspects in full detail, I encourage you to read that post.  

Here, I am reviewing five different oil-based boosters that are available from

      The Falco Tempo Long Booster is made in France and has been available from for a long time. It is the least expensive booster on a per-volume basis. Falco promises a consistent and long-lasting boosting effect (8-12 weeks) that improves the overall spin, speed, and feeling of the rubber.

      The Falco Platinium Booster has recently become available from According to Falco, the Platinium is the fastest booster in their range, enhancing spin, and facilitating "distance" play. Falco promises an increase in overall spin and speed and a very pleasant ball touch with this booster. The effect is also said to last for 8-12 weeks.

     The Haifu Sea Moon Booster, which is the least expensive booster in this test on a per-bottle basis, is known as one of the strongest and most popular boosters in the world. Haifu promises an increase in the elasticity of the rubber and an effect that lasts for 3-4 weeks.  

     The Haifu Sea Moon National Yellow Booster is a premium booster that supposedly was used by leading table tennis players at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and recently has become available. According to Haifu, the bottle has been designed to render it easier to apply the oil. Haifu promises an increase in overall spin, speed, and feeling. This booster is rumored to produce a better "hand feeling" than the corresponding black booster.  

     The Haifu Sea Moon National Black Booster is purportedly used by leading Chinese players and said to result in "much stronger friction power on the ball" while taking longer to absorb into the sponge.  

Testing Procedure

     I boosted brand-new sheets of Hurricane 3 (H3, black, 2.15 mm, 41-degree sponge, regular commercial version) using the different boosters as follows: One thin layer of the booster (~2 grams) was applied directly on the sponge and allowed to fully absorb into the sponge. At this point, the rubbers, all of which still had the thin protective film on, began to curl/dome in the horizontal direction. After 10 hours, a second thin booster layer was applied (~2 grams), resulting in even more pronounced doming. Twelve hours after the second application, I removed the thin protective film, which allowed for curling/doming in the vertical direction. Approximately 60 hours after the second application, I applied 3 layers of the Revolution 3 medium viscosity water-based glue, letting each glue layer dry completely before applying the next layer (glue goes from white to transparent). I then attached the boosted rubbers to five Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition blades with Spinlord Waran II short pips on the BH side. The set-ups were compared to a corresponding control set-up with an unboosted H3 sheet. I tested these set-ups over 2-3 sessions each, playing a mix of regular and match-like drills against my high-level practice partner. Neottec Neoplast Pro 40+ training balls were used throughout this test. In retrospect, I probably should have chosen to carry out this test using H3s with 40-degree, rather than 41-degree sponges, as I struggled to generate high amounts of power, at least with some of the boosters.    


Initial Observations


      Each booster has a brush that is integrated into the lid. The FTL and FP have rather narrow brushes and it accordingly takes many brush strokes to distribute the booster. The HSM-REG has an appropriately proportioned medium-wide brush. The HSM-NY and HSM-NB boosters have very wide brushes, almost the same width as the bottle opening, which renders them a little challenging to take out of the bottle. Care must be taken not to have too much booster on these brushes. 


      All boosters, except for HSM-NB which is dark-brown, are yellow and opaque. The FTL and FP are comparatively thin oils. The FTL has a slight engine-like smell, whereas the FP has a lemonier smell. The FP is very sticky rendering it challenging to distribute evenly. The Haifu boosters are more viscous than the Falco boosters. HSM-REG is easy to spread out and has a deep, engine oil-like smell. The HSM-NY has a lemonier smell and is very sticky like the FP. The HSM-NB has a smell that is more like the HSM-REG and is less sticky and easier to spread out than HSM-NY. 


     The time it takes for the boosters to be absorbed into the sponge varies greatly. Thus, it only took ~40 min for the HSM-REG booster to fully absorb, while it took ~75 min for the FTL. The HSM-NY and HSM-NB took ~3 h to become absorbed, whereas it took the FP more than 8-10 h. In fact, there were traces of the FP booster on the sponge even after 24 h. The absorption characteristics were similar between the first and second applications.        


     There is also significant variation concerning how much the different boosters cause the H3s to curl/dome. Thus, following absorption of the first oil layer (rubbers still had the thin protective film on), the HSM-NY already caused strong doming whereas the FP hardly domed at all. On a scale of 0 (none) and 5 (extreme curling) this is the amount of curling observed after 10 h: HSM-NY (3) > HSM-NB (2) > FTL (1) ~ HSM-REG (1) > FP (0.5). Twelve hours after the second booster application the effects were: HSM-NY (4) > HSM-NB (3) > FTL (2) ~ HSM-REG (2) > FP (1).


Playing Characteristics

Control Setup

     First, let’s establish the main characteristics of an unboosted 41-degree H3. The rubber is quite tacky (can hold a ball for several seconds) and hard to the touch. It is a slow and very linear rubber that requires the player to generate power through hip rotation, weight transfer, arm swing, wrist snap, and index finger pressure. The H3 absorbs most of the incoming energy, meaning there is essentially no catapult effect, which renders it a physically demanding rubber. Basically, it feels like a brick. The throw angle when looping is low, which produces an uncomfortable bounce. It is possible to generate very high amounts of spin on FH loops against backspin if a proper brushing technique is used and power from the ground can be transferred onto the ball. However, if the ball is hit too thick, loops have low levels of spin and either are very easy to return or blast past the table end. Since the rubber absorbs a lot of incoming energy it is excellent for blocking, although it is very spin sensitive. However, this feature can be exploited by countering the spin (e.g., chop or tomahawk blocks). H3 is poorly suited for flat hits due to its tackiness and low speed, and it is often better to loop-drive instead. The rubber excels in the short game due to its slow speed and high tackiness, which gives the feeling of it gripping the ball and holding it on the paddle for a tiny fraction longer, allowing the player to impart more spin and/or to position the push more precisely. For similar reasons, the H3 is also an excellent service rubber, as a player can precisely titrate the input power and spin. However, as with loops, a fine brushing contact is necessary.

Generally, all of the boosters, to varying degrees, succeeded in:

  • increasing the speed of the H3, 

  • facilitating the generation of "easy spin", i.e., spin on medium impact shots (e.g., topspin against heavy backspin when the ball is hit after reaching its peak),

  • increasing the throw angle, resulting in more safety over the net when looping

  • rendering the H3 to feel less brick-like

There are, however, significant differences between the boosters, which I will speak to next.      

Falco Tempo Long

     Of the different booster-treated H3s, the FTL-treated H3 feels the softest during gameplay. It has a notable catapult that does speed the rubber up quite a bit, though not to a point where I would characterize my FH drives as very fast. I still enjoyed very good consistency on my FH drives. There are minimal, if any, changes to the sound upon ball impact, and the FTL-treated H3 did not give me added feeling in the hand (e.g., a springy/clicky sensation from the topsheet-sponge interface, like other booster-treated H3s discussed later). The FTL-treated H3 generates a considerably higher throw angle on FH loops, resulting in improved clearance over the net, and consistent, spinny, but not particularly fast FH loops. Thus, the FH loops had a little less penetrating power than other booster-treated H3s discussed later. It is easy to load up the ball with spin when FH looping against long pushes due to the grippy topsheet, which gives a good contact with the ball.However, since the shots still were not particularly fast, my high-level practice partner had sufficient time to get into a good position and put me under pressure on the fifth ball. To avoid this situation, I had to use the excellent control of the rubber to place FH loops out of reach. The FTL-treated H3 lacked raw speed in FH loop-to-loop rallies far from the table but its softer nature and higher throw angle gave me additional safety over the net and generated shots with longer trajectories. The FTL-treated H3 worked very well on FH flicks against short pushes. I attribute it to the softer nature and high tackiness of the rubber, which allowed me to guide the ball over the net with good consistency but still only moderate speed. The softer nature of the FTL-treated H3 was apparent when blocking against loops. I overshot the table on a number of occasions and had to use soft hands and/or step a little further back to bring the shots safely on the table. I struggled to produce very fast blocks. The FTL-treated H3 is still not fast enough for flat hits. I found it to be more useful to let the ball drop a little bit and loop-drive instead. My long FH pushes and serves were loaded with spin, rendering them challenging to loop against. The softer nature of the FTL-treated H3 sometimes caused me to overshoot the table but this effect was tempered by its moderate speed. Unlike the Haifu-treated H3s, the edges of the FTL-treated H3 tended to curl up after assembly, rendering it necessary to use edge tape to hold the rubber down. Moreover, the pimple structure is quite prominent. In my opinion, this is a middle-of-the-road booster for spin-oriented loopers who play close to the table or from mid-distance.      

Falco Platinium

     The FP-treated H3 has some similarities to the FTL-treated H3. For example, the topsheet is softer and very grippy. Overall, however, the rubber is harder, with less catapult, and an even less pronounced change in speed and sound relative to the FTL-treated H3. FH loops against long pushes are quite spinny since the FP-treated H3 grips the ball very well, but they are slower than with the FTL-treated H3. While the throw angle is flatter than with the FTL-treated H3, it is still high enough to allow for consistent FH loops. Even more so than with the FTL-treated H3, I had to play FH loops in hard-to-reach places, as my hitting partner otherwise had no difficulties putting me under pressure on the fifth ball. The FP-treated H3 lacks punch in FH loop-to-loop rallies from afar, but I was nonetheless able to bring those shots on the table using a more upward motion. The grippy nature of the FP-treated H3 worked superbly well on FH flicks as it helped to lift the ball over the net. Consequently, I enjoyed the best consistency on these shots of all the boosted H3s. Compared to the FTL-boosted H3, I enjoyed better control on FH blocks with the FP-boosted H3 as the rubber can absorb more incoming energy. This feature also allowed for more controlled counter-drives. Smashes and flat hits remain slow due to the weak catapult and high tack. Pushes and backspin serves were comfortable to execute, but spin levels seemed a little lower than with the FTL-treated H3, i.e., lower amounts of "easy spin" are generated. And, given its hard nature, it is easy to hit the ball too "thick". I was able to play long topspin/sidespin serves with good amounts of spin and place them deep on the table, but not more than with an unboosted H3. Just as for the FTL-boosted H3, the edges of the FP-treated H3 had a tendency to curl up. Contrary to Falco’s recommendations, I think FP-boosted H3s are better suited for a game style closer to the table with an emphasis on blocks, drives, and short game.         

Haifu Sea Moon

     The HSM-REG-treated H3 produces a relatively muddled and soft feeling and is bouncier and a little faster than the FTL-boosted H3. I did not observe a notable change in sound upon ball impact, though. The characteristics on FH drives and loops are very similar to those with the FTL-treated H3, i.e., good control and higher throw angle, albeit a little faster. Accordingly, it was easier to engage in loop-to-loop rallies, though I still could have used more penetrating power. I was able to produce good spin levels on serves, pushes, and opening FH loops against backspin but a little less so than with the FTL-boosted H3, which I was surprised by.  Given the higher speed, my FH flicks seemed a little more dangerous. Similar to the FTL-treated H3, I found it best to use soft hands and/or step a little further back when blocking high-powered loops. My topspin-sidespin serves seemed slightly longer. I consider this a middle-of-the-road booster for loopers would want a booster that is a little faster than the FTL, but that has the same fundamental characteristics. 

Haifu Sea Moon National Yellow

     The HSM-NY-treated H3 produces a great hand-feeling upon hitting the ball. The H3 feels sharper and produces hints of cracking sounds on drives and loops. The feeling has some similarities to that produced by the Nittaku Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Blue rubber that I tested a couple of years ago. The HSM-NY-treated H3 has a considerable catapult that propels the ball with additional speed, depth, and clearance over the net, which worked particularly well in loop-to-loop rallies. The catapult effect feels as if it originates from the topsheet-sponge interface rather than from the sponge itself as is the case with the HSM-REG or FTL. Accordingly, the HSM-NY-treated H3 feels a little harder than HSM-REG-treated H3 but with a more elastic topsheet. I also felt like having a sharper contact on pushes, serves, and flicks. My flicks were fast and decisive, while my pushes, at times, became too aggressive. Blocking remained solid and fast near the table and was improved from mid-distance. In my opinion, the HSM-NY is an excellent booster for loopers, especially those who like to play a little further from the table, due to its increased speed and spin potential.      

Haifu Sea Moon National Black 

     Given my experiences with the HSM-NY-treated H3, I had high expectations for the HSM-NB-treated H3. I was surprised to note that the two boosters are very different. The HSM-NB-treated H3 felt much firmer and slower, with a minimal catapult and none of the crisp feeling produced by the HSM-NY. The throw angle on FH loops is low, which forced me to use a bigger and more upward motion, which reduced the quality of the loops and jeopardized my ability to be in a good position for the fifth ball. I was able to generate high amounts of spin when looping against backspin, but the loops were easy to counter due to their height. One needs Liang Jingkun-esque physique to generate the touted "friction power" with the HSM-NB-treated H3, something that I don’t have. Accordingly, I had to use more physical effort in loop-to-loop rallies far from the table. Speaking of "friction power", I couldn’t help but notice the very prominent marks that were produced by the ball on the topsheet when making powerful FH loops. Akin to my observations with the FP-boosted H3, my FH flicks were consistent but slow, presumably due to the moderate speed and grippy nature of the HSM-NB-treated H3. The consistency and quality of my pushes suffered a little bit from the harder nature of the H3, resulting in inconsistent pushes that seemed to lack spin. Same for serves. Blocking, as you might imagine given the hard nature of the HSM-NB-treated H3, is very solid. Given these observations, I can’t help but wonder if it is necessary to use additional booster layers, softer H3s, and/or fast composite blades to bring out the best from this booster. As tested, I would recommend the HSM-NB for physically strong players staying close to the table.


     The booster-treated H3s had similar levels of tackiness except for the HSM-NY-treated H3 which was slightly less tacky.  

Softness to touch (hard to soft): HSM-NB > FP > HSM-REG ~ HSM-NY ~ FTL

Softness during play (hard to soft): HSM-NB > FP > HSM-NY > HSM-REG ~FTL 

Sound: HSM-NY > HSM-REG ~ FTL ~ FP ~ HSM-NB 

Speed: HSM-NY > HSM-REG > FTL > FP ~ HSM-NB 


Feeling (soft|crisp|hard): FTL ~ HSM-REG |HSM-NY | FP < HSM-NB 

Final Thoughts

     While there are major differences in how the boosters affect the physical properties (viscosity, absorption, doming), the effects are less pronounced when it comes to playing characteristics. Nonetheless, the boosters fall into three groups. On one end, there is the HSM-NB booster which produces a H3 that requires a strong physique to take advantage of its "friction power". Hard, minimal catapult, low "easy spin", excellent short game, service, and blocking. While less extreme, the FP booster also belongs in this first group. Then there is the middle-of-the-road group comprised of the FTL and HSM-REG boosters. They are characterized by producing H3s that are softer, bouncier, and higher-throwing, and allow for higher amounts of "easy spin". H3s treated with these boosters are easier to play (unless pushed to their limits), but do not produce any special sound or hand feeling. The last "group" is comprised of the HSM-NY booster, which yields an H3 that feels and sounds more elastic and dynamic without being soft and mushy while retaining other characteristics of the middle-of-the-road group (i.e., bouncier, higher-throwing, improved easy spin). The HSM-NY would be my booster of choice, but different players will have different preferences.       

Addendum Following the Main Test

     As mentioned earlier, 40-degree H3s would probably have been more suitable for me as I – at times – struggled to generate sufficient power on the shots. Motivated by this – and following the original evaluation - I removed the rubber sheets from the paddle, applied yet another booster layer directly on the existing dry glue layer, allowed the booster to absorb overnight, and then re-attached the H3s onto the test blades, using one additional glue layer on both the rubber and blade. I subsequently evaluated the triple boosted rubbers as described in the general testing procedure.

      Below, are briefly summarized my observations of how this additional layer changed the properties of the H3s.

Falco Tempo Long

     Loops felt crisper and a prominent click is produced. The catapult was stronger but this also increased the likelihood of overshooting the table on loops, blocks, and pushes.

Falco Platinium

      The H3 felt a little softer, but there were still no major changes in hand feeling or speed. The throw angle remained rather flat, rendering it challenging to generate powerful shots. It was necessary to follow up with 5th ball attacks.  

Haifu Sea Moon

      Loops seemed faster still and slightly more spinny. The most pronounced difference, however, was blocking. The additionally boosted H3 is a beast, resulting in lightning-fast and consistent blocks.

Haifu Sea Moon National Yellow

      Loops and pushes were very spinny. The H3 felt slightly softer. Otherwise, no major changes.

Haifu Sea Moon National Black

     The H3 felt marginally softer and faster, but I still struggled to generate powerful loops and was easily put under pressure on the 5th ball. Blocking remained very solid and was slightly faster. Pushes remained inconsistent, varying between very spinny, not spinny, and too long. 




About the Reviewer

     Patrick 'Pong Professor' Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast with a Ph.D. in chemistry who combines his analytical and experimental skills with his love of table tennis in order to test and review a wide range of table tennis equipment.