Early on most of your flights will end with landing practice. Initially, your instructor should have you making full-stop landings and taxiing back for the next one. Eventually, in the interest of making the lesson more efficient, the instructor will introduce touch-and-goes. The first couple of lessons, the instructor might handle the radio calls for you, but soon you'll be expected to do them yourself. Another building block put in place. If your flight school offers the option, it's often helpful to ride in the backseat while another student is learning a maneuver or practicing landings. Watching, without having to do, makes it much easier to see what's supposed to happen and what can go wrong.
The tactic for consistently good landings-and you'll hear this for the rest of your aviation career-is a stable approach. Don't over control, and as tempting as it is to approach at a higher than recommended airspeed, fight the temptation. Trying to land with too much speed will have you floating down the runway and could lead to bouncing up and down on the nosewheel like a porpoise. If things don't look right, don't hesitate to abort the landing and start again. Even as you build your capability step-by-step from one skill to the next, there will be days when nothing seems to go right. One day you'll feel you're the ace of the base and everything will click, you'll feel confident and proud, but the next time you try something you'd thought you'd mastered, it just doesn't come together the way it should. It happens. You've reached a learning plateau, something that afflicts almost every student. Like a batter's slump, you'll start hitting again; you just have to hang in there and get over it. If you're really stuck, you can go back to be sure you've got the basics locked down, or you can ask the instructor to demonstrate the maneuver again.
One procedure that's often neglected during training is the go-around or aborted landing. If you learn that every approach ends with a landing, you're going to be pre-programmed to expect that outcome every time. Learn to do a go-around as a normal procedure and you won't be inclined to try to rescue an approach or landing that should be sacrificed. The need for a go-around isn't only to save a bad approach, but could be necessary if there's an airplane slow to exit the runway or something else is blocking the runway. If you do go around because of an airplane departing in front of you when you're on final, ease to the right of the runway as you climb back up to pattern altitude so you can keep the traffic in sight.
One day, when your instructor feels you're ready, he'll ask you to pull over to the ramp. He'll sign your logbook and student pilot's certificate and then get out. "Take it around for three takeoffs and landings." And you're on your own.
The idea of flying solo is to build confidence, as well as to improve your skills at handling the airplane and making it go where you want it to at the speed you choose. There are a couple of exercises that will help you develop a feel for the airplane. Dutch rolls, in which you hold the sight line in front of you on a point on the horizon and wag the wings up and down around the longitudinal axis, requires quick footwork on the rudder. Drawing circles or squares on the horizon with the stick and rudders is another way to sharpen your hand/foot coordination. And slow flight is an excellent way to get a feel for the airplane as it nibbles at the edge of a stall.
Another excellent exercise to learn rudder and airspeed control is the "Vertical S." The basic effort is to maintain the same speed in a climb and then in a descent to predetermined altitudes. As an example, level at 2,500 feet, you use climb power to climb to 3,000 feet at 70 knots. As you reach 3,000 feet you reduce power and lower the nose to maintain the 70-knot airspeed. As you descend to 2,500 feet you raise the nose and add climb power to again climb at 70 knots. As you get more comfortable, you can chop a hundred feet off each altitude. (Start at 2,000 feet, climb to 3,000 feet, descend to 2,100 feet, climb to 2,900 feet, etc.) Eventually, you can add turns in the climb and descent. If you use your normal approach speed as the target speed, the descent will ingrain the horizon picture that will let you maintain your approach path without having to rely on the airspeed indicator.