Focusing (and the Zone) is basically shutting off the mind and just plainly looking, observing, feeling.
You may think it’s like “meditation”, but actually is a shut-off of the mind. In other words, a different kind of operation than what we get used to by thinking.
Very young kids are very good at it, until they are “schooled” or taught that thinking is very important. It may be, but in tennis the key is observation (looking) and staying in present time. I usually have players count to five, one exactly at the bounce, then two, three, four and five, five is your stroke.
There is so much time in tennis that sometimes you have to make a pause between 4 and 5. This is not immediately grasped, as the mind makes tennis look fast, but the ball, from baseline to baseline, actually loses 60% of the speed, measured on hard courts at the US Open!
Serves, coming from higher, lose 55% of the speed.
You can count silently. Once you get used to counting, you gradually develop this awareness that time is slower, that time expands.
That’s how you get in the Zone, as described by so many great athletes and top tennis players! (and my students)