Soccer is by far the most popular sport around the world and a popular sport for youth. It is easy to get started, inexpensive, and safer than some of the alternatives. While it is not difficult to buy your basic starter kit for a new youth soccer player, it is worth understanding what you are buying.
Socks is the most obvious starting point for the soccer uniform. There is a debate among soccer players everywhere about the need for an “undersock” or liner. As long as the outer sock is team colors and the right length (should come up to just below the knee), there is little to worry about. The purpose here is to hold your shinguard in place. The optional liner sock is a thin sock that goes on under the guard. This sock can help prevent skin irritations and make your shinguard less sweaty and contain less bacteria. However, it is an extra layer that can feel unnecessary or too warm, especially those in warmer climates.
Shin guards are essential to protect any player from being kicked, as is bound to happen. Mostly sizing is to go about 3/4 way up the shin. Some pads come with ankle protectors as well, which provides that much extra coverage. There is also a soft and hard option for shinguards. Ultimately, the ankle-guard addition is good for providing extra coverage and anything else should be left up to what the youth likes.
Cleats are the most important decision as a good fit is needed to prevent blisters and irritation. Length can be judged like any shoe, just make sure the big toe isn’t too far forward. Width is where you need to pay special attention. Due to the lateral movements in soccer, players need to have limit wiggle room side to side as too much room can result in blisters and rolled ankles. There are two different stud types, but for youth this is not too important. Remember, while sizing is the most important and the priority, it is also important for the player to be proud of their shoes! Let them decide the style, so long as it fits.
Everything else is simple aesthetics. Ask the coach or other parents what size of ball is needed as it varies by age. Normal athletic clothing will suffice for everything else. All in, the process is inexpensive and easily maintained.
If you are looking a youth sports program, I would love to suggest i9 Sports. This association is driven around recraction, and having fun together. Both of my girls (10 & 12) love attending practice/games on Sundays. It seems to be the perfect blend of competition and fun play.