Background: In the general population visual-spatial ability is better in males, due to the influence of biological and socio-cultural factors. We know that sport activity improves motor skills. The aim of this work is to determine if these gender differences exist in young athletes. The orientation test described by Terzi and standardized by Cesaroni, used to measure spatial ability, was carried out on 60 volleyball or 60 tennis athletes as well as on 60 non-sporting subjects.
Results: The data analysis revealed a worse performance for non-athletes in comparison with athletes in both components of test (p < 0.0001; p = 0.04), with no differences between the volleyball and tennis groups. As far as gender comparison is concerned, as expected in the non- sport group the males presented better values (p < 0.001; p = 0.006). However in both sports groups there weren't any gender differences in either part of the test (p = 0.18; p = 0.056).
Conclusions: These results confirm that during athletic preparation in volleyball and tennis the specific training is able to develop spatial ability. Besides, boys and girls have similar performance demands and training experience. It appears that this specific training could be responsible for modifying gender differences in performance of spatial ability during adolescence.