What is Impact Play?

What is Impact Play?

Whether you’re brand new to bondage or curious about exploring BDSM, you might have heard of impact play. But what exactly is it and how does it work? 

Impact Play: What?

Impact Play: What?

In a nutshell, impact play is about consensually hitting someone or being hit for kinky or sexual purposes. It’s an umbrella term that includes many different activities that involve striking the body. Spanking, flogging, paddling, caning, whipping, punching, and slapping are all forms of impact play. 

Not all players are into all types of play. For example, you can be into spanking but not whipping, and vice versa. You might enjoy being flogged, but being slapped is a hard limit. It’s a spectrum and a menu of activities that you can choose from. 

Impact Play: Why? 

Fun fact: one of the first known recorded depictions of erotic flagellation is from an Etruscan tomb that dates from around 490 BC! Impact play is not a new thing. 

People are into impact play and other kinds of bondage and BDSM for all kinds of reasons. We asked around some kinksters we know, and here are a few of the answers we got: 

“I like it because it switches my brain off and allows me to focus on sensations in my body.” 

“I enjoy a challenge and pushing my body to its limits. Some people run marathons, I get spanked!” 

“I find it hard to process emotions and to cry. Playing with pain allows me a release that is incredibly cathartic and healing.” 

“Trusting someone enough to let them hit you – to take you so far and no further – is incredibly intimate. Impact play helps me feel closer to my partner.”

“Power is hot. I like being at my partner’s mercy and letting them decide what to do with me.” 

Impact Play: Who?

A more interesting question might be this: what is it about impact play that appeals to you? There are no right or wrong answers here!

Impact Play: Who? 

There is no such thing as a typical kinkster or impact player. BDSM and bondage practitioners can be of any age, gender, race, socioeconomic background, and sexual orientation. Contrary to popular media depictions, recipients of impact play aren’t all women, and givers of impact play aren’t all men. 

If you think you might be into impact play, there’s a place for you in the community. 

Impact Play: How? 

It’s often said that the only right way to do BDSM is the way that feels good to you and your partner. And this is true… up to a point. However, with impact play in particular, there are safety considerations you must bear in mind. Failing to adhere to the correct precautions can result in a scene gone wrong or, at worst, a serious injury. 


Negotiating any kind of kinky play is paramount. The only thing that separates BDSM from abuse is informed, enthusiastic, and ongoing consent. Establish limits with your partner around things like where the recipient wants to be hit, what implements they want to be hit with, how hard, and so on. 

You should also agree on a clear and unambiguous word or signal that means “stop now.” This is called a safeword (or safe signal). In the absence of explicit agreement to the contrary, “no” and “stop” are the ultimate safewords. 

Where to Hit

Where to Hit 

Bodies are all different, so bottoms should pay attention to their bodies and Tops should pay attention to their partner’s cues. But there are some rules that work well for most bodies: 

  • Fleshy areas, such as the buttocks and thighs, are the safest to hit. 
  • Places like the upper back and shoulder blades are safe, as long as you stay away from the neck and spine.
  • Never hit the lower back or kidney area
  • Hitting the face isn’t recommended, but we recognize that some people are into face slapping. If you must do it, go very carefully and never use any implement other than your hand.
  • Avoid joints and bony areas. 

Conclusion: Where (to Learn More)

You can learn more about impact play online – just search “impact play 101” on Google. There is also lots of useful information to be gleaned from books by kink and bondage educators, on kinky forums like Fetlife, and from Youtube videos.

But by far the best thing you can do, if possible, is attend a class. Many BDSM dungeons, swingers’ clubs, and even adult stores host classes that will teach you how to do kinky activities safely and pleasurably. We highly recommend venturing out into your local community and learning from people who have been doing this for years. 

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Kayla L. Written by Kayla L..

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