Impact play is an umbrella term for any sexual or kink activity that involves deriving pleasure from physically striking someone for the purpose of erotic gratification. It can be accomplished by using one’s hand or by striking with an implement, and can be performed with a partner — where satisfaction is experienced by the one doling out the impact, the one receiving it, or both — or on oneself as a solo kink.
Impact play is common to BDSM. It is often incorporated in a BDSM scene to enhance the physical and/or psychological pleasure experienced by one or both partners such as in a classic BDSM power dynamic, an age play scene or relationship, or other such sexual roleplay scenario where the idea of corporal punishment can enhance the roles assumed or power dynamics being explored and leveraged. It can also be a form of sensory play without any additional psychological framework being emphasized.
While it is popular in BDSM, impact play can also be explored by people who don’t consider themselves kinky. For example, many people enjoy incorporating erotic spanking into their vanilla sex lives, as an experiment for novel enjoyment, on occasion to alter the intensity of their sex sessions, or as a part of regular rough sex with a partner.
Common forms of Impact Play
While impact play can be any activity that involves hitting or striking someone, there are some forms that are more common and popular in practice. These activities can include:
Face slapping: using an open palm to strike someone in the face
Erotic spanking: using an open palm or an implement to strike any part of the body that is safe for impact play
Caning: striking or being struck with a cane
Cropping: striking or being struck with a riding crop
Paddling: striking or being struck with a paddle or other such implement with a larger surface area
Flogging: striking or being struck with a flogger, cat o’ nine tails, or any other whip-like implement with multiple tails
Impact Play with Implements
Impact play is commonly practiced by using implements. Some implements are specifically designed for striking, particularly those used historically for corporal punishment such as whips, paddles, canes, and floggers. However, household items can and are often adapted for impact play use as well, such as wooden spoons, hairbrushes, and rolled up newspapers. Anything that can be used effectively for hitting, smacking, or swatting can be used for the purpose of erotic impact play.
Items with different amounts of striking surface area will produce different sensations. An implement with less surface area like a whip with a single fall or a cane will produce a more acute and localized sensation, whereas an implement with greater surface area will spread the impact over more of the body. The preferred style and intensity of sensation will depend on the person being struck.
Safety Considerations and Precautions
As with any partner sex activity, there are safety measures to consider. With impact play, any striking should be reserved to softer, fleshier areas of the body. Areas that should be avoided in order to prevent serious injury are any bony protuberances (notably the coccyx, or tailbone, hip bones, and spinal column), other joints and articulations, the head and neck, and the area of the middle to lower torso where the kidneys and other important organs reside. Arnica gel or lotion can be used to soothe the skin and reduce bruising at the end of an impact play session.