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Eau Claire (WQOW)

Eau Claire (WQOW) - Preventing concussions is once again a topic of discussion among coaches after the recent death of a 16-year-old football player from New York.

One local coach has made it his mission to teach players how to safely tackle on the field. He's stressing how a few simple techniques can mean the difference between life and death.

Signs of a head concussion can be difficult to recognize, and in the past, Bobby Diaz, a YMCA player safety coach, said some coaches would just say "Get in the game and play. You know, you're okay."

But, in recent years, Coach Diaz said that's changed. "When in doubt, sit the kid out," he said.

Two years ago, Coach Diaz started a prevention program called "Heads Up Football", and he's determined to get it in every coach's playbook. "Kids are able to keep their heads up and use their shoulder pads more, they're less likely to get their head involved in the tackle," he said.

A tackling starting formation called, "breakdown position", is among 5 safety fundamentals to teaching players how to tackle with low impact.

Coach Diaz said, "(The) first step is the kids check their feet and get them shoulder width apart. The second step is that they squeeze their shoulders back so the fronts of their shoulder pads are out in front, and that's what they're hitting with. The third step is they sink their hips, and they get low. And then, the last step is their hands are out."

A football player in New York recently died after suffering a head concussion. It's a sad lesson parents, like Danielle Berg and Shannon Peuse, both from Eau Claire, and players are learning from.

Berg said, "I feel as a parent I am educated enough to be able to notice those symptoms. And i also work in the medical field and see a lot of concussions with young children."

Peuse said, "I've seen the coaches and how they are at practices and how they keep their eyes on the boys and how they're always making sure that they're tackling correctly and doing their job. And if anyone does get hurt, pulling them off and making sure that they're okay and not putting them back out."

"Heads Up Football" teaches players to tackle the right way, as well as the correct body posture to have while taking a hit.

Coach Diaz is a certified Heads Up Football trainer and travels across the Chippewa Valley teaching leagues and