An approach is the offensive method a player uses to get close enough to their opponent to land an attack or start a combo. Approach methods vary from built-in special moves (Bowser Jr.'s Clown Kart Dash, R.O.B.'s Arm Rotor), to dash attacks, projectiles, or highly technical techniques (wavedashing, shuffling, or using short hop lasers). The simplest (and least safe) forms of approach are simply walking or dashing up to the opponent.
Types of approaches
Disrupting an approach
Often, it will either be advantageous for a player to wait for their opponent to approach, or they will have no other option but to deal with their opponent's aggression. The defending player will often allow the aggressor to put out their attack(s) and wait for an opening, either while defending themselves via shield, jumping, or other dodging techniques. Shield grabbing is a common counter to reckless approachers.
It is also possible to stop an approach in its tracks by by hitting the opponent out of it. However, this requires that a player have a range advantage on their opponent by using attacks such as Marth's down tilt or Falco's blaster.
In competitive play
Approaching techniques play a major role in the competitive metagame. A poor approach leaves the player vulnerable, so players must pay careful mind to how they attempt to take control. Prior to approaching, players are often in what is referred to as the "neutral game". During this period, neither player has a clear-cut advantage over the other, and both will be looking for a way to safely approach their opponent while also maintaining their presence and defensive structure. The way each player chooses to approach is important, as it is heavily dependent on the current situation (the matchup, stage positioning, and damage on each player).