The Ultimate Guide to Impact Play

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As you explore your kinky tendencies, your journey may lead you to the wonderful, healing world of impact play. Within this adrenaline-fueled playground await some of the most exciting and edgy expressions of desire. Prepare yourself to be wowed – and to revel in the delicious line between pleasure and pain.

Are you enticed? Impact play awaits you. Here’s your ultimate guide to bringing it all to life. 

What is Impact Play?

But first off – what is impact play, anyway? The practice is defined as a human sexual expression in which a person is struck by another for the sexual gratification of both. It’s associated with BDSM, and the activities involved may include flogging, spanking, punching, caning, cropping, and paddling. Sex toys may also play a role.

Start With Some Erotic Spanking

Many begin their journey into impact play with erotic spanking. It can be defined as consensual impact using one’s hands (normally on the buttocks or upper thighs). This can happen during other kinds of sexual intimacy, or may be a stand-alone experience that people enjoy.

Before slapping your partner’s hindquarters, it’s always good to have a discussion about their desires and boundaries. (This applies to all sexy play!) You have so many options here. Share your desires with your partner and see where it lands with them. Do you want to spank them? Do you want them to spank you? How hard? How much? Do you want to be called something specific while you are being spanked?

Getting clear on all of this can be so much fun and create the space for more sexplorations. 

Girl getting ready to get flogged

Juicy Spanking Tips

Now that you and your partner have decided how you’d like your delicious spank session to go, it’s time to let your desires burst into life. There are some great spanking tips to keep in mind when indulging in erotic spanking.

Safe Words: It’s a good idea to have some safe words throughout all erotic impact play. One of the easiest indicators of you or your partner’s tolerance is the stoplight. “Green” means, “This is delicious, keep going.” “Yellow” lets your partner know they’re nearing an emotional or physiological edge for you, but they can keep going. “Red” means full stop. Check in, and never assume. Communicate like crazy. 

Gauge the Spanking Intensity: As the spanker, it’s best to keep your hand cupped and your fingers closed. This is the best way to control the pain and impact of your spanks. You can use a number scale to gauge how hard your partner wants to be spanked. You might be surprised at how intense their ideal number feels on your hand. Try out a spank and ask them to tell you where that spank is on their scale from 1-10, then ask them what the ideal number is for them. In other words, they might say, “That’s a three, and I like a bunch of fives and then for you to end with an eight or nine.” Then you can try again and ask, “Is this a five?” That way you can fine tune the right intensity.

Balance Spanking Locations: Keep the spanks to the fleshy parts of the rear and upper thighs, and don’t stay in one spot too long. Make sure you balance your spanks to create some equality for each cheek. Explore the delectable behind of your special someone. Mix spanks with feather touch and light tickles. Keep their hiney guessing. Don’t be afraid to take your time. It’s better to get to know the tools over time than jump in too quickly. 

Woman getting an erotic spanking

Choose Some Impact Play Toys 

If you’re ready to turn up the heat even more on your impact play, it may be time to integrate some tools or toys like floggers, whips, paddles or crops.

Make sure you and your partner are on the same page before you start using impact play toys. They can add a lot of fun to impact play, giving the play more depth and more possibility. With each new toy, make sure you know how to use it. Understand what you and your partner’s desires and boundaries are, and that you have a good safe word framework.

How to Flog

Before using a flogger, it’s very helpful and important to practice on a couch or a pillow. Discuss with your partner, practice on a couch, and start slow. The wonderful thing about floggers is that they can be used for very gentle play, sensual tickling and teasing and much more intense impact play.

When learning how to flog, hold your flogger and stand relatively close to your partner’s body. Make sure the flogger is in your dominant hand and use your other hand to loosely hold the fringe. Once you have your aim aligned, allow your dominant wrist to move in an arc, and use your other hand to guide the fringe. This will provide more impact. Always stay within the safety zones (discussed in more detail below), and communicate nonstop. 

Direction on how to use whips

How to Use Whips 

When learning how to use whips, remember, whipping has some similarities to flogging. However there are some important differences: whips are trickier and often offer a much higher level of intensity.

Also, do your research on the types of whips used for play. There are some whips that should only be used by trained kinksters, and if you’re just starting out, we recommend you use something easier to handle. Generally something short, like a riding crop or a flicker whip would be a good place to start. Once your partner has decided what position they would like to be whipped in, it’s time to get to snapping. 

When whipping your special someone, it’s important to remain in the fleshiest areas of the rear, much like spanking. Depending on the length of your whip, stand a few feet back, so the whip has room to land properly. You want the bottom of the whip to snap their skin easily, and this is where your practice sessions will come in handy!

As the top, make sure your knees are soft and your arms are relaxed. Start out with a few soft strikes, gradually escalating while remaining in communication with your partner. When you reach a level of impact that they are responding well to, stay there, and listen in for their verbal and non-verbal communication around this. 

Impact Play Safety Zones 

Be aware that there are certain zones that are okay for impact play, and others that could cause damage.

The biggest impact play safety zone is the buttocks. They can take quite a bit of impact, and are unlikely to show any physical scars. The upper thighs just under the buttocks are another great place to let your flogger, hand, or whip land. This area is a bit more sensitive, but can withstand some spanks. A third area, even more sensitive than the first two, is the front of the thighs. This area can bruise easily, so go slowly.

For a visual guide to safe zones, check out this excellent diagram, courtesy of Deviance and Desire

Impact Play Safety Zones chart

Impact Play Aftercare 

Aftercare is one of the most important parts of impact play. You and your partner went into an edgy place where adrenaline is queen. It’s time to allow space for your nervous system and spirit to come back down to a place of softness and calm.

Discuss what kind of aftercare you might want before you dive into impact play. You may be in too much of a heightened state after play to fully be in touch with your needs. Here are some suggestions for aftercare once you’ve practiced how to use whips and how to flog. Remember, the care is for both your body and mind. 

Soothe Spanked Areas: As the spankee, your bottom skin may feel red, raw, or bruised. To calm this you may want to ask your partner to rub some oil (baby, coconut, or another gentle oil) on the impacted area. As the spanker it’s important to be very gentle with this massage. Their skin is delicate in this moment. Be soft. Your bottom (double entendre) may also want to take a warm bath or even use some ice. The bath can be healing for both your body and mind. Pro tip: use lavender essential oils, candles, and some sound therapy music. 

Lavish Attention and Affirm Safety: Aftercare for your mind may take a couple different forms. Perhaps you’d like your partner to hold you and kiss you gently. Maybe you need to hear your partner affirm that you are safe and in control. Perhaps you need to do some deep breathing while getting a gentle massage. Or maybe all of the above! Try them out and have some fun. 

We hope you feel empowered to begin your impact play journey. Remember – the biggest thing to keep in mind is communicating with your partner. As long as you remain on the same page, you are likely to avoid any unnecessary pain. We only want the yummy kind of pain! This is an opportunity to get into your delicious, deviant, dungeon dreams, and we hope you are able to realize them fully and safely! 

If you’re looking for other ways to elevate your bedroom play, read our articles around 5 New Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life, Perineum Stimulation, Edging, and Anal Pleasures for Men or Women.

Find a professional sex coach near you or by expertise now.

Danielle Harel
Danielle Harel
Dr. Danielle Harel is the the co-creator of the Somatica® Method and the co-founder of the Somatica® Institute. She has a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality (DHS), a graduate degree in Clinical Social Work (MSW), and a Bachelors (BA) degree in Psychology and Educational Counseling.

As a somatic sexologist, professor, and author, Danielle has devoted the last 20 years to resolving her client’s sexual challenges, training sex & relationship coaches, and empowering people. Harnessing her extensive training in sexology, psychology, and body-based modalities like Hakomi, attachment theory, character theory, and neuro-patterning, she guides people in reaching their fullest personal, professional, and sexual potential.

In addition to being faculty at Esalen and teaching the Advanced Somatica Training and Mastery Classes, Danielle has most recently embraced the adventure of co-producing the TV series Here She Comes – an episodic based on the Somatica Method (currently in production).

Before that, she published original research on Orgasmic Birth, and co-authored 3 books with Celeste Hirschman: Cockfidence, Making Love Real, and Coming Together.

She has also written extensively on sex, relationships, and dating, and is frequently quoted as an expert resource in publications.

To everything she does, Danielle brings her unparalleled passion, depth, intuition, and magnetizing personality.

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