If you are self-analyzing, you will ideally want to use a high def, newer style video camera. If you don't have one of these, most current cell phones on the market also come with HD recording capabilities, so as long as you have a good light source and can prop the camera and phone up high enough and in the right position you should be fine with either option. You can also ask a friend to record the session, or as a last resort ask them to watch your stroke and tell them what to look for.
I suggest capturing video from back, front, and side views. I'm certainly no expert in this, have not attended any certified schools to learn how to do video lessons etc., but a lot of it is common sense. You want multiple views to see different things from different angles. Make sure the parts you are recording are in the frame, and unless you are working on something specific, shoot normal shots into the pocket with the camera directly behind or in front of the shot. Try to shoot a variety of shots and speeds after the normal baseline to see if anything changes. When you are done recording the basics you can also shoot a few racks and watch later to look at your overall rhythm, patterns, etc.
What should you look for when analyzing your stroke? From the back view, I'm looking to make sure the stick is roughly over your back foot, that it stays on line during the stroke, check the grip tightness and opening/closing of the hand, wrist angle to the stick, alignment of the upper arm and elbow over the stick, look for the arm or elbow moving up and down or sideways excessively, and generally looking to make sure the stance and stroke don't look cramped or crooked. From the front view, I will assess many of the same things as above but also see the follow through more clearly and make sure it stays on line with the shot, look for consistent stick/eye alignment and perhaps watch the eye patterns, check for head movement during the shot, and watch the overall stroke pattern and rhythm. From the side view, I make sure the forearm is roughly at 90 degrees to the stick, watch the grip movement during the stroke and the overall rhythm and pattern, watch for changes in or excessive tension (everything should just flow smoothly), and look for raising/lowering of the elbow or stick during the stroke.
I'm sure there are more things than this, and I'll go into more details on certain aspects in future articles, but this is similar to the high level assessment I first do when seeing a student for the first time. I'm really just looking for glaring flaws or flaws that could be holding the back or causing inconsistencies (as I just found with my stroke - oops...). I also don't subscribe to any one way of doing things, so I try to stick to the preference vs. principle idea. There are many ways to accomplish something, but there are certain things that ideally must happen for the stroke to be pure and consistent. Anything beyond those few principles is a preference and you have leeway in how you approach and execute those concepts and personalize your stroke. Just because you do something different than me, or different than what is generally taught, doesn't make it bad. Even if you have a pretty distinct flaw, if you are able to execute shots consistently I wouldn't go out of my way to change it.
Which brings me to the picture above. Jerry Briesath is a phenomenal instructor and one of the founding fathers of the current PBIA certified instructor program. He is actually who I had my first lesson with after I had been playing for almost 15 years and it still is one of the best 2 1/2 hours of instruction I've ever received. If you are looking to get back to fundamentals and get some great advice, I highly recommend his latest DVD series, it's a 3 DVD set and you won't be disappointed.
Hope this helps those of you who are looking to analyze your strokes. If you would like me to analyze your personal video and offer some suggestions, just post the video online (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) and email me a brief description and the link and I'd be happy to help.