It sounds like your yeast is too old or you are using water that is either too cold (won't fluff) or too hot (will kill the yeast). If the yeast won't fluff, your dough WILL be flat and hard and dry because it won't rise correctly.
If you'd like, try one of the following recipes. They are really good.
-2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoon)
-3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
-1 cup very warm water (120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit)
Mix 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil and the warm water. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes. Continue as directed below for thin crusts or thick crusts.
For thin crusts: Heat oven to 425°. Grease 2 cookie sheets or 12-inch pizza pans with oil. Divide dough in half. Pat each half into 12-inch circle on cookie sheets. Partially bake 7 to 8 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Add toppings and bake as directed in step 4.
For thick crusts: Grease 2 square pans, 8 x 8 x 2 inches, or 2 round pans, 9 x 1 1/2 inches, with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide dough in half. Pat each half in bottom of pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 30 to 45 minutes or until almost double. Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 375°. Partially bake 20 to 22 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Add toppings and bake as directed in step 4.
*Do not use self-rising flour.
From "Betty Crocker's Complete Cookbook, Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, 9th Edition." Text Copyright 2000 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
If you have a bread machine, I'd suggest making this pizza dough. It is EXCELLENT. I've used it often. You could use the following dough ingredients in the above recipe, I suppose, if you are making it by hand.
-1-1/2 cups water
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-4-1/2 cups bread flour (if you want a whole wheat pizza crust, decrease bread flour to 1-1/2 cups and add 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour with the bread flour)
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil, oregano, thyme (or a combination of the three or other spices you like) or Italian seasoning (I use, 1/2 teaspoon parsley, 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon basil)
-1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-3 teaspoons regular active dry yeast or 3 teaspoons bread machine yeast or quick-acting active dry yeast
1. Remove bread pan; attach kneading blade.
2. Place all dough ingredients in bread pan in order listed.
3. Insert bread pan, close lid and plug in.
4. Press SELECT until setting number 9 (dough setting) is displayed. Press START.
5. Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Grease 2 cookie sheets (I use olive oil). Divide dough into two pieces. Let rest 10 minutes. With oiled fingers, pat each half of dough into a 12x15-inch rectangle on each cookie sheet.
7. Spread with favorite toppings.
8. Bake each pizza 18 to 20 minutes at 400 or until crust is light brown.
BTW: My pizza - I fork dough except at edges then put olive oil on dough then Ragu Old World Style Traditional Sauce (14 ounce bottle, split between 2 crusts), then top with about 1/2 cup chopped provolone then a couple tablespoons grated Parmesan and then 8 ounce bag (1 per crust) Mozzarella cheese & can top with some chopped up fresh parsley, oregano and basil (or any combination of the three).