Butterfly Sriver Review

Our Extensive Butterfly Sriver Rubber Review From Nearly 20 Years Of Play

First introduced in 1967, Butterfly’s Sriver rubber has been used by players to win 20 World & 70 European titles. However, this was done in an era where table tennis was played with a 38mm celluloid ball.

Many players would therefore consider the Sriver ‘outdated’, especially as Butterfly have released many new rubbers since 1967. Surely they’ve improved on their rubber design with the Tenergy, Dignics, and Glayzer rubbers?

I first picked up this rubber in 2005, and I’ve come to love how it behaves for my playing style. Let me share my experiences, and help guide you to understand if Sriver might be the right rubber for your game as well.

Butterfly’s Sriver is a classic rubber, loved by hundreds of thousands of players since it was released in 1967 during the speed glue era.

The medium-hard sponge paired with a classic medium rubber provides a linear reaction to adding power (the ball goes as fast as the power you put in). There’s also excellent ball-gripping ability which gives it a natural advantage when generating spin.

However, the most impressive thing about Sriver is the outstanding control capability, especially in high-speed matches. It’s very easy to manage powerful attacks from your opponents and place returns back into awkward places.

Sriver is an all-round rubber that adapts well to different playstyles, including for offensive players who don’t need to rely on all-out power. WIth great durability and a mid-range price point, Sriver is still a fantastic option for many players.

Perfect for: All-round and defensive players, particularly beginners and intermediate (1 – 7 years experience).
Excellent control
Decent speed
Great performance in topspin rallies
Quite good in block heavy topspin
Absolute speed is not as fast as T05
A little bit expensive


Recommended Playstyles

We recommend the Butterfly Sriver for players who need control, either on the backhand for attacking players, or on the forehand for defensive players….

Recommended Playstyle -The-Defender
Recommended Playstyle -The-Brick-Wall

My Experiences With Sriver

Butterfly’s Sriver is an incredibly popular rubber, one of the most-used rubbers of all time. In particular, this rubber was highly sought after by many table tennis players for their backhand during the era of small-sized (38mm) balls. 

Even famous players like Wang Hao used this rubber for their backhand shots. 

I first started playing table tennis in the early 2000s, at a time when the International Table Tennis Federation had not yet introduced the major switch from celluloid to plastic balls. My initial experience with this rubber was in 2005 when I was just 8 years old.

Afterward, I tried various other rubbers as I progressed in my table tennis journey. It wasn’t until I reached university that I picked up this rubber again. By then, table tennis had entered the ’40+’ era, which meant that the balls had become larger. 

Compared to my first experience with the Butterfly Sriver, I had made significant improvements in both table tennis techniques and the understanding of different rubbers. Already, people were moving away from Sriver, but it was at this point I realized it was perfect for my game. 

Design of the Butterfly Sriver

As I’ve already discussed, Butterfly developed the Sriver when the game of table tennis was in a very different place. The can be seen clearly on their own comparison chart, which shows Sriver to be significantly slower and less spinny than many of its latest range of rubbers.

So, if you’re expecting Sriver to be similar to any of the Tenergy, Glayzer, or Dignics rubbers, you’d be in for a surprise. The Sriver is very slow by modern table tennis standards.

Butterfly Speed-Spin Graphic

In this review, we’re focusing on the original Sriver rubber, which has a medium-hard sponge and is designed as an all-round rubber. However, there are a couple of Sriver variations:

Sriver FX – Introduced when speed glue became popular, so Butterfly made a softer version of the original Sriver rubbers that allows the speed glue to penetrate throughout the rubber more easily.

Sriver EL – The ‘latest’ Sriver rubber, this was designed to behave like the original Sriver, whilst still having a softer sponge that was suitable for speed gluing.

In the Sriver range, all rubbers have the same topsheet and vary only based on the sponge.

Butterfly Sriver
  • Speed: Medium
  • Spin: Medium
  • Control: High
  • Tackiness: None
  • ITTF Approved: Yes
  • Sponge Thickness: 1.3mm - MAX

Summary: Sriver is a classic rubber which still performs well in the modern era. Perfect for anyone looking for lots of control or playing a more defensive playstyle whilst still wanting some counter-attacking options.

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Performance Review of Butterfly Sriver

Before I dive into the playing review, I want to celebrate Sriver’s durability. Compared to similarly priced German-made rubbers, I have found that a single sheet of Sriver can last me a full year of playing a few times a week.

Considering the mid-range price of Sriver, this makes it exceptional value. If you use speed glue, or switch the rubber on to different blades, you might find the rubber degrades quicker.

Sriver is a well-rounded rubber which is strong in every area without being perfect in any specific area. The overall feel is of playing clear and crisp shots, with good feedback when you don’t quite get your technique right.

When playing with Sriver, I have a lot of confidence that the rubber will behave exactly as I expect, providing me with a big margin for error. That’s why it’s been my primary forehand rubber for over a decade.

Driving and Looping

Due to the medium-hardness of Sriver’s rubber, it’s easy to perform high-quality and consistent drive shots. Adding a little extra power makes the ball speed up instantly.

Used across either the forehand or backhand, Sriver gives stable performance which brings a feeling of immense control. Especially for beginners looking to develop their technique, Sriver is very forgiving and helps build confidence.

Of course, the biggest debate revolves around whether Sriver maintains its performance, especially in terms of looping, in the era without speed glue. During the speed glue era, the sponge would rapidly expand through gluing, resulting in impressive speed and spin during hits. Shots were extremely powerful. However, without gluing, many players felt that the ball speed decreased, especially compared to the emergence of pre-glued rubbers.

In reality, based on my experience and testing, this claim has some validity but isn’t entirely accurate. Compared to newer-generation rubbers like Tenergy 05 or Dignics 05, Sriver’s absolute speed without glue indeed falls short of their level. However, compared to most other rubbers, the difference in speed for Butterfly Sriver during looping is not as pronounced

Even without gluing, it still offers very high speed for close-to-the-table shots. In mid-to-long-distance topspin rallies, professional players might notice some differences with a decrease in speed and support. However, for the vast majority of amateur players, these subtle differences won’t have a significant impact on your game. 

Of course, there’s a simple remedy that involves pairing Sriver with an OFF+ (Offensive Plus) blade, which effectively compensates for the shortcomings in mid-to-long-distance play while maintaining Sriver’s excellent control.

Serve and Receive

Sriver’s rubber surface has a slightly grainy texture, resulting in a high friction coefficient. Even with minimal force, it’s able to generate spin without relying solely on the sponge like other comparable rubbers.

When experimenting with the Sriver rubbers, I’ve noticed the most effective spin it generates is backspin. When cutting down under the ball, the rubber really grips and bites onto the ball which creates strong spin. That’s why my most common serves have some form of backspin component, which my opponents often struggle with.

Dealing with incoming, high-spin serves is an area where Sriver performs reasonably. The grippy topsheet does result in needing to adjust your racket angle based on the incoming spin, which can take practice.

Instead, I recommend playing more attacking strokes with the Sriver and mitigating your opponent’s spin by adding your own. Push and flick returns are easy to play, and effective as the Sriver adds a strong amount of spin.

Blocking and Chopping

As a defensive player, speed is not my primary concern when choosing my forehand rubber. Instead, I care about how the rubber performs when I’m defending against strong attacks coming from my opponent.

It’s an area where Sriver is very strong.

You don’t need to just rely on my experience, if you visit China you’ll find many defensive players with a Japanese-style penhold grip will use Sriver on their forehand. It allows them to comfortably play both attacking and defensive shots with the same rubber.

Sriver is incredible at handling regular pushes, however I need the rubber to deal with more aggressive attacking shots coming my way. With just a slight adjustment to close the racket angle, it’s also easy to control and direct these spinny topspins. Sriver does not add a lot of speed by itself, which makes it easy to block consistently.

Moreover, it’s possible to play active blocks where you provide some speed through arm movement. I find this an easy, safe way to move my opponent around and force mistakes. Whether blocking actively or passively, I find that Sriver feels very intuitive and effective.

When chopping, the medium-hardness sponge provides a reasonable amount of control. You can feel the rubber compress and bite into the ball, although it’s still quite a hard contact compared to some more defensively-minded inverted rubbers.

If you’re reliant more heavily on chopping away from the table instead of counter-attacking shots, it’s worth considering the Sriver FX variant which comes with a softer sponge. That softer sponge allows for stronger spin and greater control when chopping.

Overall impressions of Butterfly’s Sriver Rubber

For defensive and control-oriented table tennis players, Sriver remains an excellent choice despite its age.

Manufacturers have focussed on creating rubbers with more of everything, which isn’t actually what every table tennis player needs. There’s a reason Sriver is one of the best selling table tennis rubbers of all time.

In China, despite the popularity of DHS Hurricane, there are still many table tennis enthusiasts who prefer this classic rubber. Especially for defensive players, the demands on rubber are high—it can’t be too soft or too hard. Finding a well-rounded rubber that is suitable for blocking while also aiding in offense can be quite challenging.

For choppers, it’s always more difficult to chop with the forehand than the backhand, especially when using an inverted rubber. Dealing with those highly spinny and heavy topspins can be a headache, often resulting in balls going out of bounds. Sriver offers us more options. 

You can choose to block near the table, counter-attack from mid to long-range, and if the ball isn’t too fast (and you have enough preparation time) you can easily play an effective chop. The chopped balls will have tremendous spin, making it difficult for your opponent to adapt or lift up.

If you’re a defensive or control-centered player and haven’t tried this rubber yet, I strongly recommend getting one and giving it a try.

Alternatives to the Butterfly Sriver

Butterfly Sriver G3

Butterfly Sriver G3

The perfect combination of Butterfly’s new High Tension Technology with the legendary Sriver has made this rubber even more adaptable to the changes in the non-speed glue era, resulting in enhanced speed and spin.

Yasaka Mark V

Yasaka Mark V

Yasaka Mark V is also renowned worldwide for its exceptional control, and it offers speed and spin that are just as impressive as Butterfly Sriver. This rubber’s also suitable for table tennis players with different playing styles.

Xiom Vega Europe

Xiom Vega Europe

XIOM Vega Europe is quite soft and offers strong spin, making it particularly suitable for choppers and players with a controllable playing style. It provides a clear feel when in use and its offensive capabilities are also impressive, making it a well-rounded rubber.

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The Controller
Xinyu Author Profile

Xinyu started playing table tennis when he was 8 years old in China and he's also the owner of popular table tennis blog ppongsuper . He has trained with the Chinese provincial team and now plays competitively in the Spanish national league. He's constantly striving to improve his skills and tactical abilities, as well as deepen his understanding of table tennis. He joined the Racket Insight team to share his passion and promote table tennis to more people!

Blade: Nexy Joo Sae Hyuk | Forehand:Butterfly Sriver FX | Backhand: Dawei 338d-1
Playstyle: The Defender

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