The Joys of Paddling: Choosing a Paddle

Erotic spanking is one of the most common ways for people to start exploring impact play. In fact, it's so common that a lot of people I've talked to don't even think of it as particularly "kinky" at all.

Spanking is fun on its own and as part of role-playing scenarios; stern teacher and naughty student, for example. But people who enjoy spanking often encounter a problem: spanking hurts. I don't mean that it hurts the person being spanked; I mean it hurts the person delivering the spanking. One's hand is a lot more sensitive, and a lot less padded, than one's ass. Sometimes the limiting factor in any spanking scene is not what the person receiving the spanking can take, but what the person giving the spanking can take.

This is a problem that is solved by paddles. Paddles are a logical step for those who enjoy spanking, because paddling removes the constraint of what the paddler can deliver to the paddlee.

Paddles can be improvised (paint stirrers are a popular choice), found (a ping-pong paddle makes a very serviceable paddle), made (anyone with a bit of woodworking or leatherworking skill can fashion paddles in whatever size, shape, and weight he or she wants), or purchased in an astonishing range of shapes and sizes.

The shape, size, and construction of a paddle makes a huge difference in the way the paddle feels. The intensity of a paddle depends to a large degree on how wide a surface the force of impact is spread over. The smaller the area the impact is spread over, the more intense the sensation. Small paddles in particular can be surprisingly intense, so it's often a good idea to test an unfamiliar paddle on yourself before using it on your partner!

In this section, I'll talk about how to choose a paddle, and what you can expect from different styles of paddle. In the next section, I'll talk about the act of paddling.


In general, all other things being equal, a paddle made of a hard, inflexible material like wood will be more intense than a similar paddle made of a flexible material like leather, because the force is spread over a smaller area; a flexible paddle will conform itself to the shape of your partner's body, spreading the impact over a wider area.

All other things being equal, a paddle with a large striking surface is more mild than a paddle with a small striking surface. Larger paddles look more intimidating, but a large, wide paddle is less intense than a narrow paddle. (I have a custom-made hardwood paddle that is only about a quarter of an inch wide; it looks harmless, but it packs a very large bite!)

And, of course, paddles that are padded with a soft or cushioned surface, such as fur-lined paddles, will be less intense than a similar paddle without a cushioned surface. Most paddles with cushioned surfaces can be used on either side, so you can vary the intensity of the paddling just by flipping the paddle over.

Some people claim a paddle with holes drilled in its surface is more intense than a paddle with a flat striking surface. The theory is that a cushion of air builds up under the paddle, dulling the impact. I'm very skeptical about this claim; I've never noticed any difference between a paddle with holes and a similar paddle without holes, and I find it unlikely that a paddle is going to be moving quickly enough to generate a significant pressure gradient in front of them. However, since many paddles used in schools in the past had holes drilled in them, some people who like paddling role-play, especially student/teacher role-play, prefer paddles with holes in them.

Paddles, like floggers and other striking toys, should not be used on the stomach, kidneys, joints, ankles, toes, or fingers. These parts of the body can be quite fragile; take care when you paddle someone to concentrate on parts of the body that are well padded and do not have bone or internal organs close to the skin. If you're unfamiliar with the parts of the body that can be safely paddled, I suggest looking at the diagram on the page about flogging; the same rules apply to paddling.

The paddles shown below will help give you an idea about what to expect from different styles, shapes, and sizes of paddles. For some ideas about what to do with a paddle, go on to Part II!

What you'll need

Fur-Lined Leather Paddle
15" long, about 5" wide, stiff leather
with fur on one side
This light paddle is covered with soft synthetic "fur" on one side and is flat leather on the other. The fur side is very soft and sensual, and feels wonderful when stroked over bare skin. The leather side produces a good sting when thwacked on someone's backside.

Flexible Leather Paddle
16" long, made of two heavy pieces of leather with spring steel inside.
This type of paddle is one of the most popular for people who like spanking. Many paddles of this style are made of two pieces of leather that are glued together or sewn together; cheap paddles like that tend to fall apart very quickly. This paddle is a little more expensive, but it's well-designed and will last a long time. This paddle can produce any sensation from a gentle tap to a good, solid smack.

Leather Mini Paddle
11.5" long, two pieces of heavy
leather around a flexible core.
A nice, compact paddle that can produce a good, solid thwack despite its diminutive size. This paddle is easy to carry, easy to store, and a great deal of fun.

"Ouch" Paddle
12.5" long, 2.5" wide, heavy leather
"Impression paddles" like this one are a fun. There's nothing quite like a good solid smack that leaves a brief impression of the word "ouch" in the skin. It's a good choice for people who don't take their paddling too seriously.

Black Spencer Paddle
18" long, 3" wide black
wooden Spencer paddle
A Spencer paddle is a paddle using the design pioneered by schoolteacher Harold Spencer in the early 1930s. Spencer reasoned that a wooden paddle could be made more "stingy" by the addition of holes, which would prevent a cushion of air from forming beneath the paddle and softening the blow. Paddles of this design were used for corporeal punishment in American public schools until recently. This paddle is the perfect item for paddle enthusiasts, or for people who enjoy an extra element of authenticity in teacher/student role play.


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