Impact Play Explained | Gentle Play or Real Sting?

Quick links: Definition | Your Experience | Implements | Level of Force | Canvas | Why Try | My Experience | Pros & Cons | Next Steps | FAQs

Welcome back, my friends.

Today, we get into one of my absolute favorite aspects of BDSM. Impact Play is a common aspect of the lifestyle and one with so much variety available.

I think this is one of the few areas where most everyone can find an element that works for them and their partners.

Key Takeaways

  • Impact Play is about applying strikes to different parts of the body.
  • An easy way to begin exploring BDSM due to its versatility.
  • Builds intensity by increasing sensitivity on the skin.

What is Impact Play in BDSM?

Impact Play is any play that involves one person striking another. It is the broad umbrella where we find spanking, punching, slapping, and other activities.

I love the versatility. It can be the foreplay or the entire scene. You can use nothing but skin-to-skin contact or find a favorite implement. The only absolute limits to Impact Play are imagination and boundaries.

Who Hasn’t Tried Impact Play

Admit it: you’ve either gotten a little swat on the butt from your partner or given one. I thought so. Almost everyone has.

The Spanker/spankee dynamic is probably the most widely understood aspect of the BDSM lifestyle. It can be incredibly gentle and playful, which is part of the appeal. It is a way to dip your toes in the water without feeling like you are being swept away by the current.

“Any erotic play involving force, restraint, domination or erotic pain (scratching, biting, spanking) falls under the broadest definition of BDSM.”

by Kath Browne, Jason Lim, Gavin Brown; Ashgate, 2007
from Geographies of Sexualities: Theory, Practices, and Politics

The possibilities when it comes to Impact Play are nearly limitless. This is because you can use different implements, variations of force and find so many fun places to use both.

Implementing the Implements

Let’s talk about implements. The easiest and handiest is, well, your hand. Using your hand is the way most of us begin because it’s right there. We are already using touch, so why not use it harder?

Beyond the hand, we can experiment with paddles, whips, floggers, riding crops, canes, rods, belts, and the list can keep going. And as a bonus, several implements come in a variety of materials.

The Attraction of Force

So, what do I mean by force? Simply put, the weight of the impact. You can play gentle enough that no real sting is felt to the point of marks and bruises. It’s all about finding what you and your partner enjoy.

This is an area where time makes so much difference. The amount of force you enjoy changing over time is prevalent. I suggest always starting light and working up for safety and sanity. If you are new to Impact Play, you won’t likely be able to handle the force level of someone who regularly engages in these activities.

So Much Canvas

I firmly believe that most BDSM play is a work of art, but rarely more than when we talk about Impact Play. 

In Impact Play, many variations of color and pattern can be created depending on what you use, where, and how hard.

One of my favorite things about Impact Play is how many areas and sensations you can explore. Each breast, butt, thighs, back, and shoulder provides its own experience. This is true even when you use the same implement and force. It’s like magic!

I will confess to being a complete nerd who loves charts and graphs. They give us so much information so quickly. This one shows the safe zones for Impact Play. It is an excellent resource for anyone new or expanding your play to help keep everyone involved safe.

Why Engage in Impact Play

The better question here, from my perspective, is why not engage in Impact Play? I may be biased on the topic, so you may want to keep that in mind.

Impact Play has something for almost everyone. The ways to explore are practically endless; the range allows you to take it slowly while still moving forward.

Personal Experiences With Impact Play

Impact Play is one of my favorite aspects of BDSM. This is true for me from both sides and for many of the same reasons. If you haven’t figured it out yet, tactile and visual experiences are my driving force. Impact Play is a fusion of these two aspects.

From a sub standpoint, I love pushing myself to discover new limits. In Impact play, that can be done with new implements, new amounts of force, new locations on my body, or even with a new play partner.

From a Dominant standpoint, I like honing my skills. Becoming more precise with each strike or discovering what makes my partner moan excites me every time. Watching the skin blush or bruise in response to what we explore usually blushes me.

It creates a different intensity of experience from either side because it increases sensitivity. This allows so many ways to pair sensual and painful to build intensity.

Advantages of Impact Play

  • So much versatility
  • Allows you to explore and expand your limits
  • Can be a new experience with every scene

Disadvantages of Impact Play

  • Can leave marks on the skin that last beyond the scene
  • Requires a great deal of communication before starting
  • Dangerous if either partner doesn’t respect the boundaries set forth

What’s Next

Like I already said, you’ve probably touched Impact Play already. Moving forward, the best place to start is with a sit-down and talk session with your partner. Make sure you both understand the boundaries and where you want to go.

Once the rules are in place, take it slowly and find what works for you. The fun in BDSM is in the exploration. Don’t let anyone else convince you that it must be a certain level with a particular tool in a specific place to count.

Using a hand on a butt, whether giving or receiving, is a great place to start.

First, it is the lowest-risk version of Impact Play. Second, it lets you get a taste without feeling like you must consume the whole BDSM buffet. There is a lot of freedom and beauty when you think about how overwhelming navigating this world can be.

And, as always, with all BDSM activities, make sure you trust your partner and have a safe word!

BDSM Impact Play FAQs

What do you mean when you say use your hand as an implement?

The first thought most people have is open-handed, but closing the hand creates a different experience. The force distributes differently, no matter how softly you use it. And, bonus, you have it with you all the time. Perfect for a bit of impromptu play.

Can I experiment with Impact Play without a partner?

That’s one of the great things about Impact Play. You don’t have to have a partner to begin exploring this area. It is frequently an aspect of online D/s relationships because it doesn’t require both participants to be in the same location. And, there is an added aspect of submission in doing it to yourself because your Dom said to.

How do I decide how much force to use?

Take it slow. You can always use more force to accomplish the desired effect but can’t undo it if you go too hard. Tolerances also change over time, so the experience level of both people will make a difference. Communication is the key to a successful experience.


  • HarliQ

    HarliQ is a long-time member of the BDSM community. She identifies as a switch who has spent time in both Dominant and submissive roles in a diverse array of different scenes. She has experience in a wide variety of kinks and fetishes. HarliQ enjoys sharing her passion for the BDSM lifestyle with others and providing education and information to those new or evolving in the community. She is pursuing her Master of Psychology with a focus on human sexuality. Her goal is to remove the stigma many people associate with BDSM activities and open this world to anyone interested in exploring their whole self.

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