Even if you love a good spanking, you might not have heard of impact play. Impact play is a common element of BDSM that can be a ton of fun and test your kinky limits.
If you want to learn what impact play is, how to do it safely, or ways to spice it up, you’re in the right place.
What Is Impact Play?
Impact play is any sort of play that involves hitting your partner. Spanking is a classic example that many people have tried, and the butt is a common target.
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But impact play goes well beyond spanking and plump cheeks. You can use specialized tools or corrupt objects in your home. When used as a punishment, it covers the “discipline” aspect of BDSM (this can include domestic discipline too!). Impact play can also scratch that itch if you and your partner are into S & M – sadism and masochism.
Psst, the rest of the acronym stands for dominance and submission. Discover what dominance and submission really means.
Before You Go Any Further – Safety First
BDSM always requires consent, and impact play is no different. Impact play can do actual harm, especially with specific tools or an inexperienced or careless partner. No BDSM activity is without risk, so giving your consent recognizes that.
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Consent can be as involved as a BDSM contract, or you could simply ask your partner if they want to spank you. You can also negotiate what you want to play with, where you’re ok being hit, and how long and hard you want to go.
Use a safeword – This discussion is the perfect place to discuss your safeword–a word or phrase you can use if you need things to slow down, pause, or stop. The safe word should be easy to remember and say, especially if you’re in subspace. And if you’re gagged, consider an alternative such as tapping out or dropping a ball.
Learn more about safe words in this post about the rules that keep BDSM safe.
Wriststraps – If you’re using a toy with a loop or wrist strap at the end of it to stop it slipping from your hand and flying across the room or hurting your partner, use it.
Work on your technique – Technique greatly changes your risk of unintended harm. Many of the toys listed below are harder to control than you think. Changing the speed or angle ever so slightly can drastically alter where and how the toy lands. You must practice with any toy before trying them on a person.
In fact, some people say that no one should use a toy on another person until they’ve felt it themselves. But that’s up to you to decide.
Pillows make a great practice target. You’ll see marks where your blow landed. These toys just as easily leave marks on your partner. This lets you spread out your blows or alternate between buttcheeks.
Remember that it hurts more to hit skin that’s already marked. So you may want to avoid overlapping hits with the more intense toys. This includes making grid patterns with canes. While they might be appealing to look at, every intersection is essentially hurt twice .
Finally, if you need to lighten things up, wear clothing or underwear to dull the blow.
Where to Aim
Our suggestion – When it comes to impact play, you want to aim for that “sweet spot” where the butt is the most full. Around 75% of your hits should land there. You can hit right below the cheeks where the butt meets the leg around 15% of the time. You can hit the upper part of the back of the thighs more gently but less often than 10% of the time.
Of course, this is just a suggestion, ultimately it’s up to you and your partner to negotiate.
Other areas to strike – You don’t have to stick to the butt if you don’t want to. The inner thighs, calves, backs of shoulders, and upper arms can take some impact safely. Although, you may want to avoid hitting the more sensitive parts with extreme toys such as canes.
DO NOT hit these areas – You absolutely want to avoid hitting the front of the neck, back of the knees, elbows, armpits, wrists, and Achilles tendon.
If you don’t know your tools well, you can easily miss your mark, which can be dangerous. For example, aiming too high can break the tailbone or hurt the kidneys. Aiming too far to the side can cause a flogger or whip to wrap around the butt and thighs and hit the stomach or genitals, causing unwanted pain.
Positions for Impact Play
As you proceed with impact play, you’ll want to find the space, positions, and possible furniture that allow you and your partner to be comfortable. These bondage positions will give you some ideas 🙂
One practical concern is having enough room to swing your arm while holding your tool of choice (whip, cane, paddle, etc). You may want to give your receiving partner something to lean on:
- Over-the-knee works well for erotic spanking, small floggers, and paddles.
- Standing is great for nearly any type of impact play. And if you like bondage, you can tie your partner’s hands above their head. Over-the-door cuffs and a St. Andrew’s cross work well for this.
- Bending over a table, counter, bed, or another piece of furniture is a great option, too, especially if you need a little support for those longer sessions. Sex positions like the Burning Man position should give you some ideas, for having your partner bend over.
- All fours, AKA Doggy Style works just as well for impact play as it does sex from behind. Place pillows under your body to support you while your partner flogs you. Small furniture pieces such as ottomans or footstools can also work well. Note that this can be rough on wrists and ankles.
- Lying down may be the most comfortable of all these positions. Lying face up gives access to the genitals and breasts while you can target your partner’s ass when they’re face down. Incorporate bondage with a spreader bar, under-the-bed restraints, or your favorite cuffs.
The Flow of a Scene
Once you’re in position, you may be eager to get things going. However, you should process with caution. As Jay Wiesman, author of SM 101, states, you should start softer than soft and proceed slower than slow [2 p 172]. Because while you can always increase the intensity or duration of your scene, you can’t take back a blow that’s too hard or one too many for your partner to handle.
By the way: This same advice applies to having intense sex.
You can also warm your partner up with a few soft spanks or a light paddle before moving on to other tools or more intense spanking. When combined with the aftercare mentioned above, a warmup can make your session much more enjoyable and limit any potential unwanted experiences.
You can switch toys to increase intensity as you get into your scene. However, you want to ensure your partner can handle it, not make them pass out from pain or cut open their skin with the first harder blow.
How long you go depends on how long you can tolerate swinging/hitting and how much your partner can take with the specific toy, and how you use it. If you vary from lighter to heavier blows, you may be able to extend your session. Furthermore, switching between cheeks gives your partner a break so that you can go back for more later.
Ideally, your scene will end before the receiving partner (usually known as the submissive) has to tap out. A good rule of thumb is to count the number of wacks as you’re giving them and stop when you reach the agreed-upon number (or the number you decide if you’re giving out punishment). Remember that some tools are more intense than others, so your playtime can be shorter.
You can end the scene by hitting more slowly and less forcefully or simply stop. Play may stop suddenly if someone uses their safe word.
Then, proceed to aftercare.
Aftercare for Impact Play
Even if you aim correctly, you’re still hitting your partner, which affects the body. The intense experience can impact your partner’s state of mind, leading to sub drop.
This is why aftercare is so important. At the very least you want to end the scene and help your partner into a comfortable position. Snacks and drinks are always appreciated.
If any skin is broken, treat it with a first aid kit. Ice packs reduce redness, heat, and pain. Cooling lotion or aloe is another option. You can also buy soothing balm specifically for spanking to ease the pain.
Rubbing the skin may feel good or may be too intense. Make sure to communicate with your partner (guide to good sexual communication).
Check out more in our BDSM aftercare guide for detailed advice on how to care for your partner after intense impact play.
The dominant or top may need aftercare, too! After all, swinging a flogger can take quite a toll. Muscle cream, ibuprofen, and a massage all work wonders. Don’t forget to hydrate.
Types of Impact Play
Below you’ll find some of the common and not-so-common types of impact play you can try.
Spanking is, of course, the best-known type of impact play. It’s a classic for several reasons, including that you don’t need to buy anything. As long as you have a hand, you’re good to go.
Plus, spanking lets you feel your partner’s flesh, which is great if you want to stop and grope. There’s an immediate intimacy that other types of impact play don’t have. It’s also much harder to unintentionally hurt your partner because your hand doesn’t have sharp edges like some toys do.
Spacing out your hits by a second or two gives your partner a chance to recover. The faster you hit, the more intense it will feel.
You can also incorporate spanking when role playing in the bedroom. The naughty student and teacher combination works incredibly well. Pull your rowdy partner over your knee or make them lean over a desk as you mete out the lashes. But you’re not limited to this role.
More: 43 sexy role play ideas
However, spanking has a few drawbacks. Most notably, the spanker’s hand can become tired and sore easily. Wearing a glove can ease the strain and change how spanking feels.
Using one of the tools below can also relieve the strain on your hand.
Hitting and Kicking
You might think this type of impact play isn’t super common, but think again! Many people like to incorporate slapping into their impact play games. It’s intimate because you’re using your own body and generally less intense than some of the tools you can use. This means you can slap breasts and genitals, which might be too sensitive for some of the other ideas in this guide.
But if you don’t do it right, you can injure yourself and your partner. For slapping the face, aim for the fullest part of the cheek. Avoid the nose, eyes, and ears. You can also slap the genitals and breasts with an open hand. Experiment with overhand, underhand, and side-to-side swings.
Some people really enjoy genital pain. That’s why ruined orgasms along with cock & ball torture are such popular femdom ideas.
You can also try punching if you want something more extreme. Make a loose fist and hit with the flat part of your fingers–not the knuckles. Pull your fist just a few inches away from the target. Aside from the “sweet spots” mentioned above, you can also punch the chest below the collar bone but above the breasts. A tense stomach can also take a punch, but you should be more careful there. Avoid the face, neck, joints, and sternum.
Related: If you want to focus further on breast play, then you should read our breast bondage tutorial and guide.
Kicking is a more extreme form of impact play because leg muscles are so strong. A common impact play technique is for a person to kick their partner’s genitals. You can kick less forcefully by aiming your shin or the top of your foot instead of your toe. Do not kick with your full force.
Paddles are flat spanking tools with handles. They’ve often long, narrow rectangles but come in circles and other shapes, too. Paddles come in various materials (leather, wood, rubber, Kevlar, metal, and silicone, among others) and textures (some are even lined with fur). You can just as easily rub a partner’s bare ass with a fuzzy paddle as you can spank it with a rough toy that will feel more intense.
Related: How to have rough sex
It’s easy enough to move from your hand to a paddle because they use a motion–swinging your arm straight forward to make contact with your partner’s body. Larger paddles cover more surface area than your hand, making them a convenient alternative to spanking. Paddles with cutouts leave imprints on the skin, adding to your enjoyment.
A paddle’s larger size means you exert more force when swinging it than some other toys because there’s more air resistance. Paddles with holes remedy this resistance somewhat.
Thuddy or stingy – Paddles can create deep “thuddy” sensations and sharp “stingy” ones. A thicker, firmer paddle is usually thuddy, while a narrow toy produces a sharper pain. But if your large paddle has holes, it will feel more stingy. You can also create more of a sting by using the edges instead of the center of the paddle. However, you should beware that rough edges that can potentially abrade or cut the skin.
There isn’t a significant learning curve when you pick up your first paddle.
Slappers – If you want to try something similar, consider a slapper. This is essentially a paddle with two layers that sounds worse than it feels. The first hits the skin like normal, but a second layer and slapping sound follow it. But all you have to do is swing once.
Some companies make looped leather slappers that are more flexible than many paddles and make a satisfying cracking sound when you swing them.
Flexibility means a more uniform impact because the item follows the shape of the body when it lands .
Scottish tawse – Finally, consider the Scottish tawse, if you want to push boundaries with paddling. This tool is made from leather and split down the length like a fork, creating two or more tails. With every swing, you’ll feel two hits. The narrow size of each tail makes a tawse feel more stingy than many paddles.
A flogger is a toy with a handle and multiple “tails.” The exact number varies based on the design. For example, as the name suggests, a Cat o’ Nine Tails is a flogger with nine tails. But flogger fullness runs the gamut.
A flogger is another excellent option as you explore impact play. They’re pretty easy to get the hang of, and the various sizes and materials mean you can pick a toy that has precisely the intensity you want — no more, no less.
Flogger handles are often — but not always — wrapped in leather. The tails are available in many materials.
We’ve generally listed these materials from least intense to most intense. However, you can change the intensity by changing how hard you swing a flogger, and the design of the toy also influences how much pain it gives. If you prefer sensation play, try lightly dragging the flogger over your partner’s skin.
Like using a lighter touch? Learn more about gentle femdom.
Sexual flogging is relatively straightforward once you’ve grasped the handle. You can swing overhand to bring the tails down on your partner’s skin or underhand, which brings the tails up against your partner’s skin. Creating a Figure 8 uses both swings and can deliver twice the stimulation to your partner.
Practice – Like with all forms of impact play, you should practice swinging a flogger against a pillow first. This lets you find out how far you need to stand from the target and how hard you need to switch to ensure the ends of the tails hit where you’re aiming.
Warning: If you’re too close to your target, the tails can wrap around. When this happens, the tips hit a different location than what you intended. When flogging your partner, you can cause unintended harm. So don’t bite off more than you can chew when picking out a flogger, and make sure to account for the length of its tails to avoid hurting your partner.
If this all seems a bit advanced for you, you can try taking it slower. Our beginners BDSM guide will show you how.
Riding crops are traditionally used by equestrians but have been adopted by kinky folks who enjoy impact play (including those who like pony play). A crop consists of a thin and flexible rod usually covered in leather but can be made from other materials. At one end sits a loop of leather or another small piece of thin leather that acts as a slapper.
Crops are technically a single-tailed whip, but they’re easier to learn to use and less likely to cause damage, so we’re listing them separately.
Crops can be flexible or more firm, depending on the design. If you’re a romantic, heart-shaped crops exist.
Related: 12 more romantic ideas
Novelty crops depict hands or spades. One company even makes a crop with a spherical attachment at the end!
A crop’s lightness means you can flick it easily with your wrist. With a crop, you can increase the intensity simply by using your full arm when you swing. Beware that crops create a strong sensation with little effort.
Remember that you want the end of the crop, not the rod, to touch your partner’s body. The small size of a crop produces a more stingy, intense sensation that covers only a small circumference. Repeating the action at the same site on your partner’s body amplifies the feeling.
While you want to aim with the very end of a riding crop, a cane is a thin rod without any attachment that some people use for impact play. Canes are generally known for creating intense pain because of their thinness, so not everyone likes them. Some people love to push their boundaries, however.
Fans of caning also enjoy the sound they make as you swing them through the air. It can send a chill through your anticipating partner’s spine. That fear is why some people love caning.
Canes are commonly made from rattan or bamboo. They also come in plastic, leather, fiberglass, carbon fiber, rubber, and metal, among other materials. The thinner the cane, the more intense and stingy the sensation it causes.
Leaving between 10 and 40 seconds between each blow with a cane gives your partner a chance to prepare for the next one.
You can switch up how a cane feels, too. For example, lifting up right before the cane hits the skin creates a more stingy feeling, while holding it against their skin after impact makes it feel more thuddy. You can also practice by just grazing the skin or experiment with bouncing the cane on your partner’s skin.
A cane can break the skin, so you must use them carefully. Many people only swing a few times before calling it a day and administering aftercare.
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If you try, you can probably imagine the sound a whip makes in your mind. This is the sound of the whip breaking the sound barrier. While a whip only consists of a single tail, it can create a much more intense sensation than a flogger with its multiple tails.
Although leather and suede whips are the most common, you’ll also find unique silicone whips. Most leather whips have a braided tail. Tails can also be knotted to increase sensation.
There are multiple types of whips available.
- Bullwhips are like what Indiana Jones carries. They measure between 35 and 63 inches long. The longer a whip, the more skill it requires to control.
- Flickers have small tassels at the end.
- Dragon tails are made from wider straps that are loosely rolled.
Some whips have an additional, thin “cracker” at the end to create a commanding sound. Often, you can remove the cracker if you don’t want to use it.
Whips can easily break the skin or cause unintended damage, which is why we recommend them only for experienced kinksters and pros. Like floggers, whips can wrap around the body if you don’t know how to aim correctly.
You absolutely must practice on an object before a person. There are three main techniques to master.
- Overhand starts with the whip tail over your shoulder. It may trail on the ground if it’s long enough. Your arm and wrist must line up without any twisting. Pull the whip up and over your shoulder. It will land in the direction of your straightened arm. If you cannot hit your target, work on lining up your arm.
- Circus Crack is what most people imagine when they think of whipping. It creates that unmistakably “Crack!” With the whip on the ground to your side, you pull the handle straight up, then forward and back down to create an “S” shape with the tail/fall. The whip will contact the target as it falls. Note that if you twist the whip at all, you will miss your target and can even hit yourself.
- Reverse snapping looks easier than it is. Start by slowly swinging the whip over your head in a circle. Start your swing in the direction of the hand holding the whip (left for lefties, right for righties). Notice how your thumb points downward toward the end of the circle. To complete the reverse snap, flick your wrist straight forward instead of pointing your thumb down to make the whip snap. You need to create a loop in the whip before you can successfully crack it; otherwise, you’ll hit yourself in the back of the head.
Note that reverse snapping is harder than the overhand or circus crack. But none of these whipping methods are easy without lots of practice.
Impact Play on a Budget
Although you can spend a pretty penny on impact play toys, especially those that are custom or handmade, you don’t have to spend a dime on your hunt to find the perfect instrument! Your home is full of items you can temporarily — or permanently — use for impact play. The following are just a few examples.
- Fly swatters
- Belts (no buckle)
- Newspapers/magazines (rolled up)
- Cutting boards
- Sports equipment (rackets)
- Jump rope
- Paint stirrers
You can even make a game of it by having your partner guess which item you’ve grabbed from around the house or instructing them to find something suitable from each room before the timer runs up.
Remember that anything you use could potentially break with the right force. So you want to avoid materials that can cut if they break. Be careful with splinters, too.
Making Your Impact Play More Interesting
Once you understand the basics of impact play, you might want to get a little creative to mix things up. Luckily, we’ve got ideas for you.
- Have the submissive pick out and prepare tools to use during the session.
- The submissive makes the impact play toy.
- The submissive must praise themself after every spanking (works great if they’re into praise kink).
- The submissive counts each stroke/hit.
- The submissive wears frilly panties during impact play (a good idea if the sub is a man into humiliation play).
- The submissive must thank their partner for each hit, perhaps using a pet name.
- Incorporate impact play into your rough sex.
- Penetrate the sub with the handle of the object (Check out this list of things your can use as a dildo to keep it interesting).
- Have the sub wear a butt plug during the session.
- Combine spanking and figging.
Now you know what impact play is all about and have plenty of options. From spanking to sexual flogging to paddling to caning, there’s something for anyone with some interest, and you might even be able to try it tonight. However, impact play always poses a risk, so the more you know, the better. Consider a class, book, or a few videos before you dive in, and always remember to practice on something other than your partner first! This ensures you get as much enjoyment out of impact play as possible.
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