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Figure 1. A basic multi-tail flogger with flat leather tails

Flogging is one of the most common BDSM physical activities. It is a type of impact play.

It typically involves a top repeatedly and regularly striking the upper back or buttocks of a physically restrained or immobile bottom with a swinging motion using a flogger.

It is distinct from caning, whipping, or cropping in a number of ways:

  1. A wide range of floggers are available, varying in:
    • length and thickness of the tails,
    • the material from which the tails are made, and
    • the number of tails in the flogger
  2. The variety allows a very wide range of sensations and experiences to be created
  3. There are a large number of tails, which are soft and flexible


Figure 2. A flogger with thin plastic tails

A flogger typically consists of a handle from which extend a large number of soft tails of plastic, hair, or leather. The tails are typically around half a meter in length. Most floggers also have a pommel on the end of the handle away from the tails for balance.

The tails are soft and flexible, and because they tend to strike the bottom all at the same time, they can create two different experiences for the bottom depending on the tail material and the tail length:

Each strike is a heavy, but distributed impact on the bottom. Instead of a sharp pain, per se, the bottom experiences this as a thud or thump which they may feel throughout the part of the body which is struck
This is instead a very localised sharp pain experienced usually just at the impact site

Note that the intensity of the thud or sting will vary depending on how much force is used to swing the flogger.

Role in sensation play

Beyond the impact aspect of its use, the tails of a flogger can be draped over or dragged across the skin as part of sensation play. Sometimes this is done before or during a flogging scene to increase expectation of upcoming strokes. See also Techniques below.

Characteristics of floggers

  • Used with one hand
  • Soft and flexible tails
  • Tails are a maximum of one meter long
  • Use is typically restricted to the back or rear end

Other characteristics

  • Material from which the tails are made
  • Length of the tails
  • The number of tails
  • The width or diameter of each tail
  • The shape of the end of each tail
  • The weight of the tails
  • Balance of the flogger (related to the position and weight of the pommel)
  • Colour


Figure 3. Horizontal flogging with a long-tailed leather flogger

Floggers can be applied in a large variety of ways.

  • Draped - when the flogger is held above the bottom and the tails are draped over or dragged across the skin of the bottom. There is no impact involved in this, and it is sometimes used as part of a warm-up or during pauses between heavier strokes. This use can be considered a type of sensation play.
  • Inserted - where the pommel end of the flogger is inserted sexually.
  • Rapid - where the flogger is swung against the bottom in a figure-8 or circular pattern so the strokes hit in rapid succession.
  • Paced - where each strike is preceded by a pause---for psychological effect (to build up expectation), to prepare the flogger, or to select and aim for a different part of the body. Rapid flogging tends to be lighter than that which can be applied in a paced manner.

As well as the above, a flogger can be used:

  • Horizontally - perhaps best against the buttocks and thighs of someone standing. See figure 3.
  • Vertically - i.e., striking downwards.


  • The safest targets (i.e., where to hit) are:
    • The area of the shoulder blades
    • The buttocks
    • The back of the thighs
  • Avoid:
    • The centre of the back (i.e., the spine)
    • Soft tissue anywhere, especially under the ribs
    • Joints
    • The head, neck, and face


Figure 4. Sexy legs and a black leather flogger

Penetration of the bottom occurs through:

  • The sensations and/or pain caused by the impact of the flogger
  • The rate, rhythm, or irregularity of the strokes
  • The concomitant touch or caresses of the top
  • The words spoken by the top, their volume, their rate, their intonation; also any gestures
  • The facial expression of the dominant (if visible to the bottom); also posture, visible tension, physical attitude, sexual arousal (if visible to the bottom)
  • Smell or odours from the top; e.g., sweat, sexual arousal; also smell of leather or other related to the flogger itself
  • Other noises made by the top; e.g., grunts, groans, moans; also sound of breathing, change in rate and depth of breathing; also sounds made while working, such as manipulating implements, packing and unpacking floggers, cleaning sounds, foot movements, adjusting clothes, etc.

Penetration of the top occurs through:

  • The bottom writhing, wriggling, cringing, exposing self more to communicate readiness for more, shaking, twitching, physically relaxing, becoming tense
  • Words spoken by the bottom, their rate, intonation, their volume; also gestures; safewords
  • Other noises made by the bottom, such as moans, groans, screams,
  • Facial expressions made by the bottom
  • Physical response signals from the bottom; e.g., change of skin colouration (such as reddening), sweat, change in heart rate, change in breathing (such as gasping, depth of breathing, rate of breathing)
  • Smell or odours from the bottom; e.g., sweat, sexual arousal

See also