From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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A Big Hit is a move, sometimes similar to a jump, that not only does damage above, but from the side as well. It allows a player to tackle an enemy or slide down water ramps and hills. It doesn't work on all enemies, however. It is used by the four Super Mario 64 DS characters, and in Super Mario Sunshine as well.
It also appears in the Mario Strikers series, where it is used to knock down opponents. If a character tackles the opponent that has the ball, it will go flying and land somewhere in the field. However, tackling a character who does not have the ball will cause the opponent's team to receive an item.