Crawling (also known as crouch walking) is a technique introduced in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. While crouching, certain characters can move while staying low to the ground, allowing them to potentially avoid some attacks or projectiles. In Brawl, crawling characters only have access to down tilt and down special as immediate offensive options, but subsequent entries in the series allow any regular grounded option to be used out of a crawl immediately, greatly expanding the technique's utility.
The usefulness of crawling primarily depends on how low the character's crouch is. For example, Snake has a very low crouch that significantly reduces his height, making his crawl highly effective for dodging projectiles and attacks with high hitboxes, while Bowser's crouch is much higher and barely reduces his height, rendering it almost useless to dodge such attacks. While most characters can change the direction they face while crawling, all crawling characters can crawl backwards.
Crawling is not often used in competitive matches, as other methods of approach tend to be more practical. The exception to this are characters with very low crawls (such as the aforementioned Snake) in certain matchups, as their low crawl allows them to approach while being unable to be hit by opposing projectiles, such as Falco's Blaster.
Crawl-sliding is a technique in Brawl which allows the player to slide across the ground backwards for a short period of time. This was first discovered by SmashBoards member lilscrappy561, who attempted to moonwalk as in Melee by just walking instead of dashing. If done with a Bunny Hood, a character will slide even further, as if they wavedashed. This can only be done with characters that can crawl.
Performing the crawl slide
To do this, the player must tilt the control stick or d-pad so the character will walk. Once the character is walking, the player must then make a half circle in the opposite direction and let go of the analog stick or pad. The character will slide for a short distance unless they are wearing a Bunny Hood, in which case they will go further. It is easiest to do this with Luigi.
Crawl sliding is most often used as a double-cross-up, used more by characters with short jumps. For example, Bowser can crawl-slide behind an opponent who is in front of him while charging his forward smash, so less time is spent vulnerable.
Some characters have down tilts that move them forward, causing them to pseudo-crawl, but the usefulness of this is questionable depending on the down tilt. There are two different types of pseudo-crawls
A full pseudo-crawl involves down tilts which deliberately move the user a considerable distance forward. They solely move the user forward and they do not return them to their original position after the down tilt. These moves often have a good amount of range making them solid whiff punishers however, they can leave the user vulnerable for a punish if the down tilt is blocked or if their opponent is a long distance in front of them.
Characters with a full pseudo-crawl:
A semi pseudo-crawl involves down tilts which initially move the user forward but then move the user back to where they started, although they can use multiple down tilts to continue inching forward. A down tilt needs two things to semi-pseudo crawl:
Semi pseudo-crawls do not have the range of full pseudo-crawls but they are beneficial overall as they have more range than most down tilts yet the user moves backwards if they decide to not use another down tilt. This gives them much greater spacing potential than a full pseudo-crawl and makes them harder to punish on shield and overall giving them more utility. If continuous down tilts are used, this further increases their reach and can allow the down tilt to continuously chain into itself or lead into other moves depending on the down tilt (with Meta Knight being one of the most prominent examples of this). Some semi pseudo-crawls also have a strange property where if they are interrupted at the right time, they will give the user a decent amount of backwards momentum sending them further back than where they started. Some examples of this include Peach's down tilt in Brawl and Lucario's down tilt in Ultimate. This creates an addition movement option for the user further increasing their utility.
Characters with a semi pseudo-crawl: