I might be misunderstanding your question, but I certainly think that one of the goals of judging is to accurately rank gymnasts. A logical consequence of that would be to compare routines and scores to make sure that they are being ranked appropriately. Referring to previous routines and to the highest scores in the session also helps to keep scores consistent throughout the session.
A mom told me that her daughter got a low score on beam last week. She told me she did a great job, but only scored 8.6. She was told that since her daughter was the first on the beam that day, that the judges tend to give a lower score on the first girl, so they have some type of guideline to follow with the other girls. I hope I'm making sense ..LOL.
Yes and no. I see no reason to punish the first gymnast if she does a great routine. That being said, the first routines provide a good comparison for the following routines. If the following routines are better, then they should score higher. If they are worse, then they should score lower. If the judges are accurately ranking the gymnasts and the first score truly was low, then the other scores should also be lower (and vice versa if the first score was high). Judges really don't have a conspiracy to lowball the first routines.
I can't speak for everyone, but when a coach sets the line-up for each event, they usually have their best gymnasts on each event going last. This could certainly account for why the scores can be higher at the end of a rotation
I find judging to be rather formulaic. I write down what skills a girl does and the deductions and at the end I add up difficulty, event requirements, etc. Deductions and composition is very subjective, but routines go quickly and I don't have enough time to be thinking "oh, this is the first girl up, I should deduct more for that bent leg."
There was one meet that I watched (I wasn't judging this one) where a girl had a perfect bar routine. It was close to the end of the meet, and I would have given it a 10 because there were no deductions and I knew it was the best routine of the day. Had she been in the first rotation, I maybe would have given a 9.9 just because I didn't know if there would be a better routine. But a 9.9 would then have been the highest score of the day. The 0.1 deduction would have come from the composition category, and I would have had to stick with that high standard for the rest of the meet.
I agree with KBT. For the most part (there are always exceptions) judges try to rank the gymnasts. They often will jot scores down on the rotation orders in order to remind themselves of the previous scores given and to help determine where gymnasts' scores should fall. I think that helps keep consistency.
As for the first gymnast scoring lower, I do have to agree with that. It's not that the judge doesn't want to give the gymnast a high score, but if a judge throws a 9.7 out on the first routine, there's not much wiggle room if someone better comes along. So, in my opinion and from my experience over the past ten years, the scores often do start off a little lower.
Yes, I agree with all of these. I know that I hated going first, sometimes our coaches would put the best girls first, but that rarely happened. I remember one meet I didn't have a very good bars routine, but still got a 9.4 because the judge had started out scoring too high.
I too am a judge, and I have never come across this. I score each girl on her own individual merit. Gymnastics judging should not be relative, there are set deductions to be taken. If you judge correctly then a girl should get the same score she would have gotten regardless of when she competes.
In Australia we have rules in our comp that the same girl can't go 1st more than once in any rotation. For example say you have 8 girls on a rotation for vault, then when they go to bars the girl who was 1st on vault goes to the bottom of the list and competes last, then on beam then next girl goes to the bottom and so on. So coaches can't manipulate the starting order and all will go first an equal amount of the time.