Many young school-leavers, particularly those with poor prospects, successfully complete college-based leisure and sport programmes, with some attaining formal qualifications for the first time, according to an HMIE report into Scotland's colleges' sports and leisure programmes.
The inspectors also found almost all teaching staff on the courses to be very highly motivated, enthusiastic and committed.
Highly-specialised sports programmes in Scotland's colleges attracted learners from other parts of the UK and overseas, they found.
However, the majority of teaching staff were "not sufficiently conversant" with national educational strategies, including Curriculum for Excellence, and most programme teams did not have sufficient links with physical education teachers in secondary schools to be able to inform and update them about courses, the report found.
In more than a few theory classes, learning and teaching approaches were "outdated and insufficiently engaging", with the majority of sports staff failing to use ICT and interactive resources, said the inspectors.
The HMIE report, the latest in a series of "subject-based aspect reports", called on Scotland's colleges to address these issues and recommended that Skills Development Scotland work with colleges to investigate the low number of female learners undertaking sport and leisure programmes.
Thirty-six of the 43 colleges in Scotland offer sport and leisure programmes. Around 20 of these deliver significant levels of provision.
FE colleges are regarded by the Scottish Government as having an important role to play in preparing for and contributing to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.