What Makes A Good Tickler?
It is in everyone's interest that the tickler in any tickle play is attentive and skilled. For ticklee, this makes sessions safer and more enjoyable. For the tickler, this makes it far more likely that they will get to indulge in further tickle play in future!
A good tickler puts safety first. Whether it is making sure any restraints used are not cutting off circulation, or making sure the ticklee is not about to fall off the couch and hurt their head in their laughter, it is up to the tickler to keep the ticklee physically and emotionally safe.
A good tickler puts the ticklee at ease. They encourage the ticklee to let go of their worries and inhibitions both through their words and through their actions in establishing a safe environment.
A good tickler reads the moods and desires of the ticklee and behaves accordingly. You don't have to be a mind-reader - just ask what they enjoy! A frank conversation between consenting adults is often the best way to establish limits.
A good tickler does not just press their hands into a ticklish spot as hard as possible and hope to elicit laughter. Being jabbed and poked is rarely ticklish or much fun for the ticklee. Vary your pressure and if in doubt, start off lightly.
A good tickler is attentive, and carefully notes what techniques and spots the ticklee enjoys and what tickles the most. Once those most ticklish spots are discovered, the skilled tickler uses them wisely. That does not mean using them constantly (although it might depending on the ticklee), but varying their techniques and areas used to keep the ticklee in a state of joyful laughter.
A good tickler surprises the ticklee. Some of the physical sensation of tickling, and also some of the fun, comes from the ticklee experiencing a sensation that they did not know was coming. There is nothing wrong with messing with the ticklee - saying that you'll do one thing then doing another, or pulling out an unexpected tickle toy. You certainly do not have to warn or ask your ticklee before you change to each ticklish spot, or use a new technique, if you know from previous play or discussion that this is within your ticklee's limits.
It is up to you to read the reactions to these surprises and guage whether this adds to your session with your specific ticklee. In most cases, a willing ticklee will be delighted with your experimentation.