Impact Play 101: How to Successfully Spank and Slap With Your Very Own Hands

Your hands are your first and best lesbian sex toy, and one thing you can do with them is spank someone! Spanking is maybe the most common entry point for impact play in the bedroom for people interested in trying it out. It can be fun and playful, hot n’ heavy, or part of a more involved kink dynamic or a full negotiated scene. It can also be a gateway sex act to other kinds of impact play, whether that’s other kinds of open-handed slapping or playing with toys like paddles, floggers, and more! What a cornucopia of delights. Regardless of where you end up, however, in your journey, it has to start with knowing how to use your hands to hit someone in a way that’s safe and sexy (or finding someone who is competent at doing this for you). To that end, let’s talk about how to spank someone!

What is spanking?

In a literal sense, spanking is a slapping gesture specifically on the ass, or sometimes back of the thighs. It falls under the larger umbrella of impact play, striking part of another person’s body with your hands or another implement — I personally often use spanking as a warm up on the ass for more intense impact play (paddles, canes, etc). Spanking can represent a range of things for the person administering a spanking and receiving it. On a basic level, it’s sensation play — to give someone pain, or intense sensation on and in their body during, before or completely outside of sex. When our bodies are pumped full of the intense chemicals associated with sexual arousal, sensations that might normally feel unpleasant or too intense can feel really good, and spanking or striking can be one of them. One friend I spoke to explained why the sensation of spanking works for them: “I’m partial to thuddy feelings, and there’s nothing quite like when a well-aimed hit lands on that place where your thigh meets your ass in a really sexy crease… you know where I mean. I’m getting hot thinking about it.” Spanking is maybe the most well-known form of impact play, but it’s not the only kind — I might also slap the inner or top of the thigh, or even slap the chest during sex as an extra sensation to turn up the intensity of the whole experience of receiving pleasure.

Spanking can obviously also function in D/s contexts as a form of “punishment” for whatever reason you decide, and has a role in kink dynamics. People might enjoy giving or receiving spankings for either of these reasons; many people like both. I sometimes use spanking on its own, as an over the knee punishment session, which sometimes also includes hitting with a a folded belt or paddle. Bottom and spankee extraordinaire Chingy describes the mental and emotional experience of being spanked as really fulfilling in a kinky context: “…it’s very psychological. Being bent over, with my ass exposed and beaten with hands/paddles/hair brushes/spoons/boots makes me feel small, embarrassed, and wet in ways little else does.”

Of course, spanking and slapping in this context I’m describing above is consensual! I’ve asked my partners prior to doing it, and we’ve had conversations about what feels good and what doesn’t. A lot of people find spanking to be really fun! It feels good, releases endorphins, can be a great introduction to playing with S/M, since it requires no purchased or brought with you items; you can just use your hands.

If you’d like to hear more from someone who’s really into spanking about why they like it, I recommend the “Why Are People Into That?” podcast by Tina Horn, and this episode which interviews Jillian Keenan about her spanking fetish.

Asking for it

You know this, but: before hitting someone you need to talk to them! Do not just smack someone and see how they react. Whether you’re interested in being a spanker, a spankee, or both, you’re going to need to talk all this out before you do anything, and make sure everyone’s on board with everything before you begin. Ask your partner what they’re looking for, what their boundaries are, and what they want and don’t want out of this experience.

If you’re a bottom or person who wants to be spanked or are curious about this, and are unsure how to get what you want, I recommend simply talking to your partner. Tell them you find spanking sexy, or you’re curious about trying it — maybe spanking sounds hot but you’re not sure and would like to give it a try. It may sound really hard to do; talking really directly about the sex you want is hard at first, but it does get easier as you practice it, and it really is the best way to get what you want. It might be easier and more productive to bring it up for the first time outside of a sexual context, laying the groundwork and broaching the subject before mentioning it in the bedroom. It’s good to also make sure, if they’re new to spanking too, that they understand how to do it safely — you can send them this article!

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with wanting someone to spank you, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to spank your partner as long as both of you are 100% on board. For what it’s worth, you’re far from alone — in our 2015 Lesbian Sex Survey results, a full 50% of respondents included spanking as an answer to the question “Which of these activities has been a regular part of your sex life within the last year?” Specifically, “among survey-takers who indicated being interested in kink, 58% enjoy spanking their partner and 62% enjoy getting spanked.” You’re in good company! Although it’s totally possible that any individual sex partner might not be into it, there are lots of others who are.

You don’t want to actually hurt someone mentally (like by crossing their boundaries) or physically (like by hitting their tailbone) so learn and practice clear discussion of your wants, needs and boundaries as well as safety skills. Also, sobriety is recommended by me for impact play and kink in general. Be safe, friends!

Literally how to hit with your hands

So you’ve both worked out what you want, and you’re ready to go! First, you need to figure out literally how to do it. If you’ve never spanked someone before, I’d start with learning how a hit feels on your own body with the different options and ways one can hit — experiment with hitting your own thighs or inner arms with different levels of strength and hand positioning. For example, you can hit with your fingers together or apart, and your hand flat or more cupped. Personally, I prefer my fingers together and a bit of a cupped palm, as it makes a more satisfying noise upon impact, and delivers a deeper blow. If you hold your hand on the spot you just hit for a second or two after a spank instead of taking it away immediately, it’ll have a different sensation. Try playing around with these different options on your own thigh to test the differences and find your preferences — keeping in mind of course that everything feels different to each body, and so once you have a sense of your own strength and sensations you still need to talk to anyone you’re playing with about how it feels to them. Even for the same person, on different days or in different situations a stroke that normally feels like a 2 could sometimes feel like a 6, and so on; pay attention and listen to their verbal and nonverbal cues about how intense things are feeling.

To the degree that any kind of impact play is about sensation, keep in mind that there are a range of different types of feeling associated with being struck, and it’s productive to think about how different feelings can be produced and talk with your play partner about what they like. For instance, Chingy says that “stingier, sharper pain turns me on from a place of fear and feels like a jolt of energy flying through my nervous system, but when thuddy pain connects it feels like a wave of endorphins washing over me from the bottom up (pun fully intended).” Experiment with trying to give yourself different kinds of sensation on your thigh or inner arm and controlling the type of sensation consistently. How does it feel different if you connect with your fingers first as opposed to the heel of your hand? Do you know what your play partner likes, and in what contexts? Talk about it! It’s hot!

Ok, so where and how?

beginners guide to spanking safe zones — This is by no means a definitive guide, but it can help you start to understand the areas of the body that can be hit and the zones you should avoid.

The next most important step is to learn some safety. You can safely hit a variety of places on the body, mostly the ones that are padded with lots of muscle and fat — the most common is, of course, the butt, but you don’t have to limit yourself there! The back of the thighs are great (just make sure you don’t go too low and hit the back of the knees). The inner thighs are extremely sensitive and my favorite place to slap (but I wouldn’t use an intense impact toy there). The chest on the pectoral muscles is a great spot too — I find folks really like a thuddier deeper hit there if they have enough flesh to shield their ribs, but again, if you don’t know what you’re doing, stick to your hands in this area.

Never hit someone on the abdomen, especially the lower and mid back below the rib cage — although this area doesn’t feel delicate, this is where your kidneys and other important organs are, and they aren’t protected by the ribcage. If you’re hitting someone’s butt (recommended!), be very careful to not hit their tailbone, and generally just make sure to stay away from their lower back altogether. I often place my other hand over their tailbone when hitting, to make sure if my aim is off I end up hitting my own hand instead — it’s pretty easy to break or bruise those tiny little bones there, so be careful.. Keeping your hand there also helps if the spankee is being wiggly and isn’t holding still, so you don’t screw up your aim. Stay away from the head and neck — unless you’re curious about face slapping, which is covered further down this article.

To recap! When in doubt, aim for more fleshy areas where there’s a large muscle mass, and steer clear of areas near joints or where skin is close to bones.

Get in position

Like other sex acts, spanking is versatile; you can do it in most places and positions where there’s enough room to access your partner’s ass and have some space for your arm’s range of motion — in a box, with a fox, in the rain, on a train. You can give a spanking with your partner lying down on a bed or sofa, especially if they’re bent over the edge of a mattress or sofa arm; kneeling on their hands and knees in an all-fours position; having them bent over while standing, probably supporting themselves with their arms on a wall or piece of furniture; or my favorite position, “over the knee.”

OTK is when you, the spanker, are seated (on a chair or edge of the bed or sofa or wherever!); the spankee then lays on top of your lap to receive their spanking. This position can feel really submissive for the person getting spanked, and can really add a level of power dynamics and/or humiliation to the spanking session. As Chingy shares, the psychological import of an OTK spanking can do a lot of work in a scene before anything has even gotten started: “I’ve pushed my pain tolerance further and further over the years and love taking whips, needles, and tasers when bottoming, but a well-executed OTK spanking will always make my knees buckle.” (Also, logistically, when someone’s hips are bent, their ass is more exposed, and the muscles are pulled tighter. This makes the spanks hurt more.) I’ll often add smaller, close-range hitting implements when doing OTK after my bottom has warmed up, such as a folded-over belt, the back of a hairbrush, a ruler, spatula or wooden paddle.

Anatomy of a good spanking

So you’re ready to start! The first step I recommend is a warm up. A good warm up will let the spankee’s body and mind adjust as you go,allow the receiver to endure a deeper and longer session, and relax them into it too. Let’s start with the butt since that’s often a really pleasurable place to get spanked, and an easy spot to start with.

Start spanking the bare butt at the lower end of your partner’s pain threshold (ask them to rank each beginning spank on a scale of 1-10, and start around a 2-3). Hit repeatedly at that level, or alternate a little less and a little more. As you spank, blood will start flowing to the area in response to the pain, the area you spank will noticeably warm to the touch, and endorphins will start releasing too. Once the endorphins start, you’ll find your partner can take a longer and deeper spanking, as the endorphins increase tolerance to pain.

A warmup might take five to ten minutes or longer, so be patient. If your hand gets sore, you can switch hands, or try curling your fingers into a fist and punching the thicker parts of the butt. This creates a deeper, thuddy sensation which is a nice offset to the stingier slap. You can also switch to an impact toy if you have one, or root around in your kitchen drawer for something useful like a spatula — just be real careful of that tailbone.

Once your bottom has been warmed up, and their butt is hot to the touch, you can start to hit harder. You can ask them to continue to rate each slap on a 1-10 scale — as they’re warmed up and endorphins are flowing, the spankee’s own sense of sensation and pain will shift — so you have an idea of how hard you’re hitting. It’s possible to hit someone at a “10” several times in a row, but you’re probably going to wear out your partner real quick. Instead you might want to try switching up the intensity. A few 7’s followed by some 3’s and 5’s might be better, but it’s really up to you both. Pay attention to your bottom’s body language and make sure they communicate with you too. You can keep the hits even on each butt cheek or not!

Extra credit activities

Getting skin wet before a spanking makes the hit way more stingy and powerful. Try it on yourself! Also cooling off the previously warmed up area with something cold will make it more painful if you want to be meaner. A great way to combine these two is to use an ice cube on the butt after a real good spanking. It’ll melt real fast because the skin is warmed, leaving cold and wet skin. You can then end a session with a few good whacks and it’ll be much more intense!

A butt plug inserted or a vibrator held in place by the bottom while the session is happening can be really fun to play with too!

Blindfolds can add a nice unknown or element of surprise for the spankee — one person mentioned how for them, suspense adds to the power dynamic they enjoy about spanking: “I enjoy feeling like the person I’m playing with or having sex with is in charge and I don’t quite know exactly what’s going to happen next, just that they get to decide and I don’t.”

Your body is an (impact play) wonderland

As the helpful diagram above shows, oranges the butt is not the only fruit when it comes to impact play. Here are a few other parts of the body you might enjoy hitting/having hit! As previously discussed, this is a good thing to talk to your partner about; especially if some kind of impact play has been explored previously or already been established, you can say “I think it would feel good to get slapped here/are you into being slapped here too?”

Legs/thighs

The heavy muscles of the thigh area make it great for any kind of impact play. That can mean extending the area of spanking to the back of the thighs if a partner is bent over something or your knees; it can also include the fleshy and sensitive inner thighs, which can be really satisfying to slap/have slapped. Obviously this can be a great fit for positions where somebody is already in front of you with their legs spread! Have fun out there.

Chest

The ribcage means that internal organs are protected from impacts here, and the pectoral muscles and/or breasts if your partner has them also offer some protective muscle and fat, and depending on the position you’re in relative to your partner can be easy and fun to hit. Ask your partner whether a more superficial, stingy slap feels better in this area or a deeper, thuddier impact that resonates throughout the torso.

Face slapping

Finally, I’d like to cover another type of hitting with hands: the face! Face slapping can be really intense and vulnerable and is often a thing people really like; as with spanking, there’s an element of sensation play here but can also be a strong element of humiliation, punishment or other specific power dynamics. Chingy says that “…I can’t think of one other thing that puts me in subspace faster. I’m generally well-behaved for my Dominant, but I’ve been known to be occasionally bratty, or sometimes my Sagittarius mouth will blurt out something snarky when it shouldn’t, and generally it’s a slap or two (or eight) to the face that’ll break down that brat and remind me of my place.”

Face slapping also can go wrong fast, so if you have terrible aim it may not be the best for you. When you slap someone’s face, aim for the center of their cheek, and use your fingers to do the impact, not the palm of your hand. You can try this out on your own cheek to feel how it works; a controlled, centered slap where the impact comes from the breadth of your fingers feels really different from connecting with the palm or heel of your hand into the jawbone. While a “thuddier” sensation can feel great on other parts of the body, it’s something you want to avoid with the face. Practice on yourself until you feel comfortable consistently getting the kind of controlled sensation you want; it can be helpful to keep your hand and fingers a little looser and more relaxed than you maybe would when spanking someone’s ass.

Do not hit the nose or eyes, and BE REALLY CAREFUL OF THE EARS. If you slap someone across the ear, you run a high risk of rupturing their eardrum with the force of the air. I know more than one person who has had this happen after a badly aimed face slap, so please be careful. And if you’re a person who is getting your face slapped, don’t turn your head away at the last minute, or your ear might get hit instead! To reduce risk, I often hold the person’s other cheek or grab their hair with my other hand to absorb the force (less whiplash-type stress on their neck), and to make sure they can’t turn away so I don’t hit their ear.

Aftercare

Some folks will want aftercare after a spanking, and others won’t. Make sure to talk with each other about what feels good to both of you beforehand so both your needs are met, and be flexible if you are unsure what your partner’s needs might be if they’re inexperienced. Aftercare can look like cuddling after, or words of affirmation, or thanking the partner for the experience, or having an ice cream together. If you’re not sure, see how you feel after and try to communicate that to your partner. For some people, spanking or other kinds of impact play are routine; for others, they’re intense emotional and sexual experiences that take time and space to process (and it’s possible to walk into an experience thinking it will be the former and finding it the latter). Make space for both you and your partner to be honest about what you both feel and need afterward! You may not need anything, and that’s totally okay too! Just make sure you take care of each other, and try to meet both of your needs.


I'm the tech director for Autostraddle, which means I oversee all the tech-related stuff and do anything from coding the website to keeping the servers online. I also enjoy finding ways technology can make it easier for our writers to work. Apart from Autostraddle, I really enjoy making things, breaking things and then fixing them again, taking pictures, getting outside, making food, working on my house and garden, and travel. They/them.

cee has written 16 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. This is really cool and informative!

    One thing I learned the dumb way about face slapping is that it’s easy for newbies to accidentally leave fairly substantial bruises that last a few days, even from mild slaps. If I had known, I would have chosen a Friday eve to experiment, to minimize potential awkwardness at work.

    The face bruises much easier than other parts of the body, it seems, esp with cheekbone impact.

  2. Hell yes hell yes

    One of my favorite kinds of spanking aftercare is when my partner rubs cool lotion on my warm butt after. It’s a really fun sensation. Then we open the door and let the soft kitties come cuddle with us because we are also saps.

    Thanks so much for this!

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