I'm sure you've noticed when shopping for a camera, one of the selling points that manufacturers like to point of is the number of pictures a camera can take per second. The newer entry level DSLR's can usually shoot approximately 3 - 4 frames per second (higher-end cameras can take even more), which is an awesome feature! But you have to know how to use it!
On your camera you can choose one of three drive modes. The standard setting is one shot, which means that when you press the shutter button the camera just takes one single picture. This is the setting that you'll probably use most of the time.
But what if you want to take an incredible picture of your subject making a soccer goal or diving into a swimming pool? In these kinds of situations it's very helpful to change your drive mode to continuous mode. That way, when you keep your finger pressed down on the shutter button the camera will keep continuously taking pictures as fast as it's able to. So you can photograph an entire sequence of movement and then pick out the photo that captures the exact crucial moment you want to portray.
The continuous mode can also be useful in capturing candid moments. I'm sure you've all had the experience of trying to take a candid type picture only to later find that you caught someone in an awkward mid-blink moment, or with their mouth weirdly open or something like that. With the continuous mode, you can capture a sequence of interactions and then go back and find the perfect non-awkward frame. Yay!
The third setting is the self timer. You can use this with a tripod (or set your camera on a table, etc.) so you can get in the picture! After you focus and push the button there will be a delay in which you can hurry into position (on my camera I have a choice between a 2 second delay and a 10 second delay). There's a small light on the front of the camera that will blink and then stay on when it's about to take the picture.
Knowing about drive modes is just another way to help you to capture the perfect shot! Have fun with it!