What is Impact Play: 6 Tips and Tricks

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What is Impact Play: 6 Tips and Tricks


BDSM is more than just being in tied up sex positions. There’s also impact play. If you’re interested in impact play, you might be wondering, where, oh where to begin? 

First off, BDSM play (the umbrella that impact play tends to fall under) doesn’t have to be a part of anyone’s sexual experience, but in some cases, and for some folks, it can enhance their sex lives and even their everyday lives. Some bondage play practitioners even find that bondage, impact, and control play helps them grow on a personal and a sexual level.

It’s also helpful to know that sometimes, the scope of BDSM, impact play, and the feeling of one person having power over another can move beyond kink into fetish. A fetish is when a certain act or type of play must be involved for someone to experience sexual gratification. In other words, for some people, this kind of play is the only way they can feel sexually satisfied, whereas for others, it’s part of a larger whole.

In the words of Brianne McGuire, host of the Sex Communication podcast, “BDSM is 100% consensual and the result of explicit, thorough communication. Activities may include physical contact that appears violent, but really, it’s the manifestation of an agreed-upon dynamic.” 

In other words, the BDSM scene is not random violence inflicted at will. Done well, it requires open and ongoing communication and can often bring partners closer together as a result. As Kayna Cassard, sex therapist and founder of Intuitive Sensuality, says, “BDSM emphasizes consensual play and teaches us tools to communicate our erotic and sexual needs more effectively.”


What is an impact session?

An impact session is a set period of time where two or more people participate in a BDSM “scene.” This usually consists of one person (the dom or top) striking another (the sub or bottom). The session goes on for an agreed amount of time, within certain limitations discussed between the participants prior to the scene taking place.

Anything can be a “go” in an impact session as long as all the parties involved are into it. If you’d like to feel the sting of a whip on your body, or you’d like to feel wider implements (like paddles) being struck against the fun, juicy parts of your butt and/or thighs — those could be agreed-upon actions.

Really, you can bring almost anything to an impact session to be used as an impact play tool. That’s all part of the fun! If, for example, you want to bring a little wacky suction to your impact sessions, maybe you bring some (brand-new or only used for impact) plungers and stick ‘em right on your partner’s yummy muscled butt.

A good place to begin when it comes to impact play is the booty and outer/inner thighs. These areas have more fatty tissue and don’t cover any vital organs. Striking zones above vital organs or over tissue with less fat can cause damage, and while it sometimes looks like that might be the point of impact play and BDSM, lasting damage isn’t the goal. Healthy participants pay special attention to care and train themselves to ensure that damage of any kind happens as little as possible.


Safe words and cues

A topic of cardinal importance is the emotional and physical safety of everyone involved in whatever kinky things are going on. Generally, this means that the sub (submissive or bottom) needs to be on board with whatever type of play is happening. If they have hard limits — for example, some people are into water sports and others really aren’t — that might be a red line for the bottom and, therefore, shouldn’t be engaged in at all.

Layered on top of this concept is intensity. For example, a bottom might enjoy being paddled on their bottom, but they have both a force and duration limit. They might be able to take medium-level thwacks to their booty, but not heavier strikes. If things get too intense, they need to be able to clearly express their desire to stop. This is why it’s common practice to propose a few safe words to make sure everyone involved can clearly communicate consent. Consent is super hot!

A commonly-accepted system in BDSM for consent is simple: Green, Yellow, Red. Any member of a scene can call out a color, ending a scene if they say red. Here’s that system broken down:

  • Green: Everything is going great over here! I’m all right; continue; enthusiastic yes.
  • Yellow: Slow your roll. Something has come up that I need to check in about. This might be the end of a scene, and it also might be resolvable.
  • Red: Stop. Something is happening that isn’t working.

This system gives three clear ways to communicate how into a scene you are and does so in a simple, one-word format. Sometimes you just want some water, or maybe a rope is compressing a nerve, and things are getting weirdly tingly. Maybe you’ve hit your emotional limit of play for the day and want to call it quits. Red communicates this immediately and effectively and lets your partner know it’s time to end things and use the safe exit strategies you’ve planned.

If kink is your jam and you want to learn more about it, there are lots of tools for how to clearly gain and give your consent, pre-negotiate limits and boundaries, and other goodies to sink your teeth into on your way to some yummy restrained hedonism.


Pain scale

Each sub will want to experience an individual level of consensual pain or discomfort and will have a different limit (the point at which they opt-out of escalating intensity). Check in with your partner if you’ve got a particularly evil set of experiences in mind for them, and keep yourself in check to avoid getting carried away on a sexily sadistic rollercoaster.

A good way to range a pain scale is a simple 1-10. Communication about pain in a BDSM scene is crucial, and here’s why: when pain is inflicted, even in a consensual context, the body releases endorphins to help dull that pain. Those endorphins can lead to what’s called a “subspace.” According to Healthline, “[s]ubspace refers to the trancelike state some submissives experience during BDSM play. While subspace can feel different for different people, many describe it as feeling ‘light,’ ‘floaty,’ or ‘like mush.’”

This space can be reached through meticulous management of the pain level being inflicted, which is where the pain scale comes into play. If you’re trying to get your partner to higher levels of pain safely, it’s not advisable to bring them from a 0 to an 8, 9, or 10 right away. You’ve got to work them up to that level with enough time for the body to react, hitting levels like a 5 or 6 for a little bit before dropping back down to a manageable 2 or 3. Once the body acclimates, you can proceed to higher levels of intensity.

Remember that just because your bottom might not be reporting that their pain level is high (due to those endorphins), it doesn’t mean that their body isn’t being affected. During impact play, it’s critical to ensure that you don’t overdo. Bruises, for example, will form even if your bottom doesn’t feel the impact at the time. Going beyond their ability to receive isn’t going to be good for you or them. This type of behavior will lead to a lack of trust and possible physical and/or emotional harm. Plus, if you’re a member of a kink/BDSM community, you should know that verging beyond anyone’s boundaries is a huge no-no, and you won’t be welcome. Don’t do it.


What are the different types of impact?

Different impact intended adult sex toys and impact toys create different sensations, but the two overarching categories that are easy to get behind are thuddy toys and stingy toys. Thuddy toys have a wider striking surface, passing along more of the force behind any particular strike to a larger area. Things like ping pong paddles, an open hand, a wooden paddle like a pasta spoon, or a nice hardback book are all thuddy toys. The good thing about these impact toys is they also work well with other sex toys, such as butt plugs (of course, if you don’t want to hurt your partner, make sure to check out butt plug sizes). 

Stingy toys, on the other hand, are the ones that deliver all the force of an impact to a tiny area. These are things like canes, whips, crochet needles, a radio antenna, and news that your recent ex is already in a new relationship. ;)

Some toys can be both thuddy or stingy, based on how they’re made or used. For example, floggers can sting if you’re hitting your sub with the tips of the tails but can also thud if the mass of the entire flogger (handle included) hits all at once.

For beginners, thuddy toys tend to be easier to both handle and experience. The booty spank is a good example of this, and, barring injuries or past trauma, a nice spank on the bottom is an easy activity to both take pleasure in and to partake in (and it makes such a satisfying sound!).

Before you choose the right impact toy, here are six more impact play tips and tricks:


1. Make a quick and easy DIY flogger

If you’re thinking of practicing rope bondage with your partner and need access to a flogger, a rope can come in handy as a quick stand-in. Use roughly 20 feet of rope and wrap the rope on itself in an O-shape roughly 18 inches in height (the larger the O, the longer the tails on the flogger). 

Save the last few feet to wrap around the base of your coiled O to make a handle and bam! You’ve got a convenient, DIY flogger that can be repurposed for other rope, tie, and bondage activities after it has served its impact play purpose. One more way to create erotic flagellation!


2. Try combining sensations

Playing spank-the-bottom with your bottom? Try varying the activity from intense spanks, to gentle spanks, to light caresses across your bottom’s flesh. For many subs, one part of the joy of BDSM is living in not knowing what will come next and whether or not that next action will provide (consensual) pain, tickling, massage, something nice, or something devious. 

Let your partner live in the experience of not knowing what’s coming up!


3. Take away one of your sub’s five senses

Provided there’s adequate trust, removing a sense from your bottom can be extremely, shall we say, impactful. Whether that means removing their sense of sight with a comfortable eye cover or removing their sense of hearing with ear plugs, there’s something erotic about having one sense removed, especially since it tends to heighten other senses. 

(Bonus tip: use a Bluetooth headset to choose the music and vibe your partner is exposed to. If you’re in a BDSM dungeon that can’t get its music act together, this tip can save you.)


4. Know the body

Impact sex can also heighten the sensation of other sex tricks, such as double penetration (For those who are new to BDSM and wondering what double penetration is, it’s basically when the vagina and anus are penetrated at the same time). Using any impact implements or impact toys on your partner requires both trust and knowledge. If you’re the dom, your job is to create an experience both of you can sink into, and if one partner gets hurt for real, that’s a permanent breach of trust. Unsafe play is not sexy. 

With that in mind, it’s important to know which body parts are safe to pelt and rap vs. too dangerous to strike, bind, or compress. Know your partner's usual targets that are well within safe zones and areas that might be more tender (such as the upper thigh and inner thigh). Hitting the wrong body part can not only spell pain but also break trust. yPlus, blood is not one of the bodily fluids that should make an appearance during impact play. Hit just enough to elicit a different sensation

It’s a good idea to have a handy dandy chart to take a look at and especially to use as a reminder to not strike the tissue around the kidneys. You’re going for a sexy, intense sting,  and definitely not injury.

Thinking of playing Indiana Jones and using your brand-new whips with single tails on your bottom? Keeping them stationary so you can more easily strike exactly where you want to is both fun and a good idea, so you don’t hit the wrong spot. 

Getting acquainted with some rope ties is always good, or you can invest in some comfortable and sexy leather wrist, and leg cuffs with handy-dandy attachment points to make your partner only be able to squirm a little and not move a whole lot. Fun!


5. It’s fun to be restrained

Thinking of playing Indiana Jones and using your brand-new whips with single tails on your bottom? Keeping them stationary so you can more easily strike exactly where you want to is both fun and a good idea, so you don’t hit the wrong spot. 

Getting acquainted with some rope ties is always good, or you can invest in some comfortable and sexy leather wrist, and leg cuffs with handy-dandy attachment points to make your partner only be able to squirm a little and not move a whole lot. Fun!


6. Really learn what makes your partner tick

One of the best parts of really knowing someone knows when you’re playing right in their fun, sexy sensation zone. This really only happens when you’ve gotten to know that person's desires, limits, likes, dislikes, big yeses, and big nos. 

Keeping your partner on the brink of orgasm via edge play while simultaneously keeping them on edge by not knowing which type of sensation is coming next via sensation play is a super intense combination. You can put together sexual pleasure and sexual gratification, along with pain play and a few intense stings if that’s what they’re into. 

Trust and knowledge in the relationship between a top and bottom are earned. You can grow together when you bring together the BDSM and sexuality parts of yourselves out. It’s worth investing in someone you click with, so that you both can get the most out of impact scenes (full of titillating things like erotic spanking).

If you’re looking for other great sources on how to bring more scintillating debauchery into your relationship, Dr. Holly Richmond, a somatic psychotherapist, certified sex therapist, and sex tech consultant, has related posts on BDSM, as well as the art of shibari. She’s also got copious information on how to bring your relationships closer through a lens of pleasure.

Finally, after a session or scene, it’s important to wind down. Aftercare for your partner is vital, as is toy care for the sex toys and tools you’ve used during the session. Everything used on your partner should be adequately cleaned. Rope should go through the wash or go to the cleaners; anal beads should be cleaned and sanitized with a cleanser or by being boiled, depending on what they’re made of; and leather tools should be cleaned and cleared of any bodily fluids and sprayed/wiped with some sort of disinfectant.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get spankin’.


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